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.


Comparison Compromises the Present

By: Katie Kortkamp, Sophomore

Today is the first day of classes and I’m officially a sophomore! After doing some reflecting on my first year at NCC and all that happened, I’ve come to the conclusion that expectations and comparisons majorly got in the way of my first year experience. Majorly. And because of that, I wanted to share with you a piece of my story and what I’d tell my freshman self today: comparison compromises the present.

The summer before my freshman year was CRAZY: full of lists of school supplies to get at Target, mental lists of where my classes were going to be, heavy emotions, and a huge list of things to get to put in my room and make it my own. I remember sitting in my basement talking to the girls in my high school small group. Naturally we were talking about our future and what was to come. Most, okay, actually all, of the girls in my small group were going off to schools that run on semesters and they were getting very antsy and ready to go. They had all of their stuff ready, they knew their roommates’ names, they knew what color scheme they were going to use in the dorm room with their roommates, and they had everything figured out. I just listened in excitement knowing that my time would come soon.

A few days later, the dreaded time came when people started to leave. To date, these were the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to go through. And pretty soon after that, my Instagram and Facebook feeds started blowing up with pictures of college. Pictures filled my screen of orientation weeks, #bestroomie hashtags, and people glowing from happiness. I was so ready to begin this journey I could hardly stand it! I loved seeing my friend’s pictures, but I was very ready to live it myself.

file_002Finally came my time to arrive to campus. I moved in, hung pictures and lights on the walls, and jumped right in. But something was different. About a week into welcome week, my only friend was my roommate. I didn’t have a group of friend’s like my small group people had. I wasn’t glowing with happiness like my friend’s in their pictures. I was expecting to meet someone just like me during orientation. Instead, I kept to myself, told a girl that I liked her shirt and went through my day.

Very slowly throughout the year, comparison started to take over. My expectations of instant friendships and happiness hadn’t come. Coming home for Christmas and Spring Break was fun, but it was hard for me to hear all the adventures that my friend’s were having at their schools. Yeah, I had made some awesome friends at Focus (North Central’s interdenominational student-led ministry), but my friend went to Yosemite National Park for a weekend trip… oh my gosh. And yeah, I really love the size of my school and that it’s more personal, but my best friend is planning on rushing this spring semester so fun! And instead of being happy and celebrating my friend’s adventures and happiness, I envied it. It went downhill very quickly from there.

This summer I was vfile_000ery convicted of the power that comparison has, especially today. This generation is all about the Snapchat stories, Instagram filters, and Facebook updates. I got caught up in this, and it took over my freshman year. I looked at my friends and instantly compared their experiences to mine. This comparison led to jealousy, and the jealousy led to bitterness. Bitterness towards everything and everyone. It totally took control. Instead of finding the things I loved about North Central and reminding myself of the reasons I chose to go to school here, I was bound in my bitterness-escaping into my friend’s realities versus being present in my own.

After all this, I encourage you, especially first year students, to not let yourself fall into the trap that I did. To not look at pictures of your friend’s campus and compare it to your own. To remind yourself that you are here for a reason. That you chose this school for a reason. There is so much for you to do, learn, see, experience, and live out here at North Central. This is just the beginning. So I dare you to live it up! Notice the little things, appreciate the people you meet, be present, and take every opportunity to jump out of your comfort zone a bit. Don’t get caught up in comparison this year. I promise you, it’s not worth it.