New Grad Parlays Alternative Break Experience into Internship

Published: May 28, 2014
Brad Larino’s last trip with UT’s alternative breaks program was to Alaska this May.
Brad Larino’s last trip with UT’s alternative breaks program was to Alaska this May.
Brad Larino ’14 was actually a little late to start his internship this summer. But he happened to be leading UT’s alternative break to Alaska, which focused on cultural preservation of Alaskan natives, finding a balance with modern society and preserving local traditions.

“It was phenomenal,” said Larino, of Tampa. “I think I might move back.”

Larino’s excuse was more than appropriate for his new employer, Break Away, a national organization that supports alternative break programs on college campuses, like that at UT, Eckerd College and the University of Florida. He’ll spend the summer in Atlanta working as a programs assistant, planning and facilitating conferences for the nonprofit and networking with those in the field.

It was at one of these conferences where Larino first met Break Away staff. Since he was a freshman, Larino had been involved in The University of Tampa PEACE Volunteer Center’s alternative breaks program, first as a participant and then as a staff member. He’s gone on nine trips, plus these annual summer conferences to learn how to be a better leader.

“The most challenging part of leading an alternative break is making sure the group is going in the direction you want them to go,” said Larino, who received his degree in advertising with a minor in marketing.

He explained the point of alternative breaks is to evolve participants through four stages of social awareness and recognition — that of member, volunteer, conscientious citizen and active citizen.

“We want to push the volunteers toward active citizenship, which is when you place community as a priority in your values and life choices,” Larino said. “I’ve tried to adapt that mindset as much as possible, and I try to live and lead as an example to the students on my trips.”

Larino remembers his first trip as a freshman, to an orphanage that tried to fill in where the foster care system was weak by providing family structure for the children and working to pair siblings in adoptions.

“With this experience, I felt a connection to the organization I was working with,” said Larino, who used the experience as a platform for additional research on the foster care system for an assignment in one of his courses.

He enjoyed the guided reflections and conversation from the trip, and introduced him to a group of new friends. From there, Larino started working for PEACE as a volunteer coordinator.

“I realized the alternative break experience and facilitating that experience for others is something I’m passionate about,” said Larino.

Now he’ll have the chance to facilitate that experience on a national level.