Laura NotarangeloHonors Program Student

Laura Notarangelo (2009) won $1000 for her winning essay in a national competition sponsored by "Outside the Classroom: Alternative Spring Break."

A global pandemic that is steadily taking away the lives of men, women, and children; it doesn't discriminate nor is it prejudiced. Since 2005, an estimated 38.6 million people were living with HIV. Although there is no cure in sight for HIV/AIDS, a group of thirteen individuals from Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts hope to make living with this deadly virus somewhat easier by volunteering with Vital Bridges in Chicago, a non-profit organization that helps people who are impacted by HIV and AIDS to build healthier lives. My inspiration for participating in this Alternative Spring Break was the Honors Seminar I took this past fall semester entitled AIDS in America, where I learned the facts on this rampant virus. Biology of the virus, methods of transmission, high risk groups, global factors, education programs, drug therapies, ethical dilemmas, and factors blocking the finding of a cure were some of the crucial topics discussed during this course. A survey of HIV/AIDS awareness was administered on campus as the final learning component to the course, which yielded fascinating, yet at times alarming, responses.

Lasell College students have a history of participating in Alternative Spring Break programs and are committed to service throughout the semester. This week-long focus presents a distinct opportunity to a select group of students who are dedicated to the improvement of humanity by hands-on activities and learning experiences. On campus, World AIDS Day was recognized as students worked diligently to spread the word about the severity and possibility of contracting HIV/AIDS. While most college students have an attitude that they are invincible to HIV/AIDS, students in the AIDS in America class knew otherwise and passed on knowledge to their peers. Of the eleven students participating in this Alternative Spring Break, four were a part of the class. Upon completion of our Alternative Spring Break, we plan to facilitate long-lasting change at Lasell College through HIV/AIDS advocacy and awareness by serving as role models to our peers through our service and involvement. We are looking forward to getting other students involved in our passion as well as meeting new people!

We plan to use AlterEdu to share our experience in Chicago by creating a video diary, enabling students to see the trip through our own eyes and witness our voyage first-hand. This mode of communication will motivate others to action as well as educate them on the effects of living with HIV/AIDS. Winning this competition will facilitate our mission for change, and by working with Vital Bridges, we will be able to reach out to others in need. Our trip will push us outside of our comfort levels and challenge us to grow, both as students and people. We'll be positively shaped by gaining greater insight and knowledge not only about ourselves, but about our world; allowing us to see beyond the familiar Lasell and Boston community. HIV/AIDS will not be cured tomorrow, and it is necessary for other students to see the difficulties faced by infected individuals.

 

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