Most students at The University of Southern Mississippi see spring break as a week of fun in the sun. Many spend their weeklong vacation basking in the Destin sun, running around Whales Tail and going shot-for-shot with other college students from across the state.
This year, there are some students who are choosing less sandy spots at which to relax and explore.
Senior business administration major Rebecca Hyde booked a round-trip ticket to the Las Vegas, a.k.a. Sin City. Hyde and her best friend, fellow USM student Crystal Boyne, planned the ultimate girls weekend. The two are planning to skydive, visit some local shops and indulge in a spa day as well.
A large number of Southern Miss students will travel across the Atlantic Ocean to Dublin, Ireland. The Pride of Mississippi Marching Band has been invited to participate in the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“This will be different than any other spring break because it’s something completely new and different,” said Caitlyn Dobson, a senior education major and a member of the Dixie Darlings. “I normally hit the beach with my friends, but this time I’m hitting the British Isles.”
Senior finance major and member of the Pride Brent Newsom is also going to Dublin. He is most excited to visit the Guinness Storehouse, where the band will also perform.
“That is such a high honor for collegiate marching bands,” Newsom said of the trip.
Emily Volnoff, a junior elementary education major, is also traveling overseas this spring break. She, along with other members of the Baptist Student Union, are spending their vacation on a mission trip in Vancouver. For Volnoff, this will be her fifth time to mission in Vancouver and her third spring break there.
“When we go, we work with a husband-and-wife team that are both alumni of Southern Miss,” she said. “Being a missionary in Vancouver is like no other because we don’t go to build houses or hand out food. We are there to strictly go out onto the streets and share the Gospel.”
Another popular destination for students choosing an alternative spring break destination is none other than Walt Disney World.
For junior communications studies major Sarah Selph, this will be her second consecutive spring break at the “happiest place on earth.” She is going with her Alpha Delta Pi sorority sisters.
“We are going to Disney because we wanted to do something different than go to the beach,” she said. “And we have other sorority sisters doing the Disney College Program we want to visit.”
Also visiting Disney World this spring is senior communications studies major Rylee House. For her, a spring break spent in Disney is practically a tradition. House’s grandparents work at Disney World and are able to provide her and two other friends free tickets and a place to stay every year.
“I always try to bring two people that have never been so they can have the experience of Disney World that every person deserves,” she said. “This year I’m bringing two of my childhood best friends.”
David Sliman, a junior biochemistry major, is on his way to Honduras with fellow student Rachel Keuhn and a group from Baptist Medical and Dental International. The group will assist three surgeons conduct pro-bono surgeries throughout the week.
Sliman said the group will awake at 6:30 a.m. every morning to prepare the operating room and to ensure all of the equipment is clean. On some of the days, the group will rotate the ability to assist the surgeons with the procedures.
“We are both really excited to participate in this mission trip,” Sliman said. “Not only do we get priceless experience, but we get to assist in the basic principle of being a doctor, which is to help those in need. That is what makes this trip so meaningful.”
Senior recreational therapy major Myra Roebuck plans to road trip roughly 13 hours with her fellow Delta Gamma sorority sisters to visit her fiancé in South Carolina.
“We’ll be visiting the camp that I worked at to do some fun activities like canoeing, the rock wall and archery,” Roebuck said. “We’ll also be visiting the beautiful towns of Greenville and Charleston while we’re there.”
Though they do not have much planned yet, Roebuck says she knows it will be a “wicked road trip.”
Jacob Fail, a senior criminal justice and psychology double major, is traveling alongside his fiancé Taylor Button to Miami to visit some friends and to go scuba diving.
“We are both advanced scuba certified and have heard it is great diving in Miami,” Fail said. “We also plan on going free diving on a shallow reef.”
Senior political science and journalism double major Megan Fink is also spending her time doing unlikely things at the beach. Fink is attending Daytona Bike Week in Daytona, Florida. The week allows her and fellow motorcyclists to hang out and network with each other.
“My entire family rides motorcycles, so biker events are good quality times we can spend together,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to the rides with my mom and dad, and just getting out of Hattiesburg for a while and letting the stress levels drop.”
Though Southern Miss is conveniently located near several beautiful, yet frequently visited, spring break destinations, these students are going out into the world and exploring something new.
Spring break 2015 will be one they will surely remember for the rest of their lives.