My Time with Hawkeye Service Teams

The University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Service Team program started in 2013 with one group of 16 students traveling to Memphis, TN over spring break. Now HST has grown to serve 12 different states addressing topics such as homelessness, disability rights, and education equity. This year, HST is proud to add another trip regarding gentrification in Birmingham, AL. 

Having volunteered with Hawkeye Service Teams for the past three years, KayLynn Harris has gone from team participant to Director of Promotion and Retention. With HST greatly impacting her UI career, I asked Harris to reflect upon her most memorable moments with the program.

Can you tell me your ASB story?

I got involved with HST my sophomore year as a participant when I went on the Kansas City trip focused on youth education. I then decided to apply to be a student leader and was able to plan the St. Louis trip on education equity my junior year. Now as a senior I have been fortunate enough to continue with HST as a member of their executive board. Of course I will still be attending one of the trips this spring because it wouldn't be a spring break to me without service.

What has been your favorite trip you’ve been on and why? 

It's difficult to pick a favorite trip. I loved my first ASB trip because it helped me discover my passion for service and nonprofit work. After the trip I added a certificate in fundraising & philanthropy to my studies and made it a goal to volunteer on a monthly basis. HST allowed me to find a place where I felt like I belonged and had a sense of purpose.

What’s one of your most impactful HST memories?

During my St. Louis trip we were volunteering in an elementary school that didn't have an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. They had a student who transferred in late in the school year who only spoke Spanish, and nobody around him shared his language. There were 3 native Spanish speakers on my team and they were able to spend the whole day with him. His face lit up when they said hello to him in Spanish and they helped translate so he was able to talk to his classmates. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.

“HST wants to provide students with the opportunity to become active citizens and advocates for their community. We want to give them the skills to build communities, start and expand conversations.”

Advice for those looking to get involved?

Applications for next year's 2020 Alternative Spring Break program will open early in fall 2019. Until then students can checkout service opportunities on CSIL's website. For those who might want to get involved, I encourage them to join one of the many service organizations already existing here on campus.

Why do you think ASB is important?

I believe that when students choose to participate in Hawkeye Service Teams they are taking a right step. It's an amazing way to learn about servant leadership, meet peers who are as passionate as you are, and have a meaningful experience. It is impossible for us to solve the world's problems in one spring break trip. However, it doesn't mean what we are doing is not important.

Hawkeye Service Teams will be presenting on their service trips on April 1st from 5:30 to 7:30 in the IMU. Anyone interested in gaining a more in-depth view of the program is encouraged to attend!