Just How Lucky I Am: Reflecting on my BREAKAWAY Spring Break Service Trip

By: Jack Bronec, Sophomore

Hi! My name is Jack Bronec. I am a sophomore at North Central College studying marketing.  I am on the Men’s Basketball Team and the Vice President of Communication of American Marketing Association. I grew up St. Charles, IL where I live with my mom, dad, grandma, two sisters Margaret and Molly, and my dog named Guinness who is a Boston terrier.


I first heard about BREAKAWAY from my mom. She said to check it out since I didn’t have plans for spring break and basketball had just ended.  After checking out BREAKAWAY on the website, I was really interested in Habitat for Humanity in Clemson, SC. Our team was made up of leaders, Kaitlin and Brittany and six other students Joy, Laura, Sophie, Noah, Mason, and me.

8In short, it was a GREAT trip, and I made some friends for the rest of my college career. This trip helped me break out of my comfort zone as I traveled to a new city, got to know new people, and donated my time to helping others. It was fulfilling to hear “thank you” so many times. It made me realize that I CAN help change people’s lives and this trip gave me so much perspective on just how lucky I am. I go to a great college. I have a great family who is not only physically healthy but mentally healthy as well, and we have good relationships. When I look at the Clemson/ Pickens County area, I see people struggling to make ends meet and simply put food on the table. I am so blessed that I am in the position I am today, and I take this for granted all too often. I need to make the most out of every situation in life and be grateful for what I’ve been given.

For your reading pleasure, below is a short summary of our week with some pictures!

DAY 1 – Travel Day 1

Saturday March 18th, 2017 – We started our trip. The first leg was from North Central College to Knoxville, Tennessee. We stayed at a church. There was a game room, basketball court, and a big area were everyone slept for the night.

DAY 2 – Travel Day 2

Sunday March 19th, 2017 – We stopped at a local 1donut shop—Markers donuts—and made our way to Clemson, South Carolina driving through the  Blue Ridge Mountains. That evening, our main Habitat for Humanity host, Cindy, cooked us lasagna and garlic bread and helped us settle into Clemson United Methodist Church for the week

DAY 3 – Work Day 1

Monday March 20th, 2017 – Today was the day—WORK DAY 1.  The house we were assigned was about 40 minutes away from the church. We met our contractor Art who gave us duct tape to make name tags. The goal for the week was to law down hardwood floor throughout the house and put up trim around the windows and doors. One of the Habitat board members owns Wendy’s so we got to enjoy as much food as possible for dinner that evening, too, and explore the river walk in downtown Greensville.

DAY 4 – Work Day 2

Tuesday March 21st, 2017 – We finished up the flooring in the bedrooms then moved our way to the hallway and kitchen and family room. Once we finished up the bedrooms we7 put a cleaner, flooring paper, and cardboard on the floor to protect them. We walked down to a little place called Hagood Mill to eat our lunch were there was a blacksmith, a mill where they used the river to make flour, and a moonshine still. For dinner, we went to Clemson University’s Church were we engaged with their Catholic student group and some faculty too. We toured campus and were able to go into the football stadium!

DAY 5 – Work Day 3

Wednesday March 22nd, 2017 – We conquered a lot this day. We finished up the flooring after many days of hard work. During our evening church dinner, I met some people that lived in St. Charles until 2014. I couldn’t believe how small the world really is and how you can relate so much to someone simply because you lived in the same place.

DAY 6 – Work Day 4

Thursday March 23rd, 2017 – Details were our main focus at the worksite with flooring and starting the trim work on the windows and framing the doors. Cindy took us to talk with some current Habitat homeowners and hear their stories—to help break down the stereotypical view of someone who may need a home. Cindy also have us a lot of the background on what it takes to get a Habitat house. She also took us to her home on a farm where she hosts weddings and more! While relaxing that evening, everyone randomly wanted to how to dance to Footloose. We spent an hour trying to practice it. We did an ok job!

DAY 7 – Work Day 5

Friday March 24th, 2017 – Our last day of work was a half day so we could hike and explore! We finished up majority of the 11windows and doors trim work. We were proud of ourselves. Cindy gave us a picture of all of us and the house in the background. I have it hanging on my wall by my desk. Art took us on a trail he blazed himself, nowhere to be found on a map, with a great view of water falls. And after that hike, we went to another trail (mapped) and found another waterfall which was huge. We all had a great time just lying in the sun, listening to the water, and reflecting on how lucky we were to be in that place, in that moment, and on that trip.


From the Suburbs to the City: My Chicago Term Experience Thus Far

By: Kaylee Lessen, Sophomore

Chicago, by far, is the greatest city in the world! Am I biased? Maybe a little bit. But that’s only because I get to LIVE here!

Why do I get to live here? Because North Central College is incredible and has opportunities where I, as a sophomore, get to live downtown Chicago in an urban apartment overlooking Lake Michigan. I know it seems as though I’m bragging and who am I kidding, I totally am, but it’s such a neat thing I want to share it with everybody.fullsizerender-1

After my first full day in the city, I woke up feeling like I was in a dream. I sat up in bed and looked out my window at the brand new Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, and a little to the right I’m watching Buckingham Fountain magnificently erupt before my eyes. Boats are lined up in the harbor and a gentle, morning haze is settled over the lake. And I thought to myself, “Am I really living in one of the greatest cities in the world?” The reality still hasn’t really hit me!

Why do I find Chicago so wonderful? Well, apart from the fact that it’s rich with culture and has many other great qualities, here are a couple reasons why I, personally, am loving the city of Chicago.


Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE fountains. Lucky for me, this beautiful city has them all over the place, big and small! And the greatest of them all is sitting right outside my window. How awesome is that? Super.

Coffee Shops

Anyone who knows me well ALSO knows how much I love exploring new coffee shops. In Chicago, you can’t walk far without stumbling upon the cutest/coolest/most hipster coffee shop ever. I’ve picked up collecting coffee cup sleeves over this past year from all of the coffee shops I’ve visited and let me tell you, I am in coffee shop heaven.


Chicago has been called the melting pot of America due to the diversity of it’s population. And one thing I love about this city is not only it’s diversity of people, but the neighborhoods of Chicago are so unique themselves. I feel like I could live here all my life and still not experience all of the facets of Chicago.


There is NO shortage of fun places to grab a bite around here. Want Greek food? Head over to Greek Town. Want Chinese food? China Town! Want Italian food? You get the idea.


From the architecture, to the lake, to the river, to the skyscrapers, designs, urban gardens, parks, etc., it’s all beautiful.

There are SO many reasons why I think Chicago is the greatest city in the world and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to bask in and learn from its culture and beauty.

fullsizerender-2I can’t wait for this experience to continue to unfold in the next 6 weeks. Woo-hoo!


Photo Credit: Karli Anne Photography