Site Leaders

The people behind the magic

Behind every powerful alternative break there is an equally powerful site leader. Our site leaders spend months immersing themselves in their issue education and working with their community partners to create incredible experiences for their fellow students. 

Jose Acuna

Jose Acuna, Haiti Compact
Computer Science and Mathematics major from Herndon, VA
"As a first generation college student, education is one of the most important aspects of my life and I'm extremely grateful for being able to receive such a great education. Being able to spread my passion for learning and learn about the complex barriers that prevent many from obtaining education is very important to me and I'm happy that Branch Out is there to facilitate it."


Brendan Boylan, Lemon Project
Public Policy and Economics major from Virginia Beach, VA
"Alternative breaks are an incredible opportunity to find the intersection between understanding social justice and acting on pursuing that social justice. The culture of Branch Out at William & Mary is particularly rewarding because it brings together not only some of the most  intelligent and reflective folks but the most passionate and committed bunch of students ready to change the world one small step at a time."



Abby Davidson

Jiajia Chen, Haiti Compact
Biology major from Shenzhen, China
"Active citizenship is important to me because I consider myself a global citizen who believes in an emerging world community. I love to travel and explore exciting unknown corners in the world, I hope that wherever I am, I will be able to make meaningful connections with them and work for a better life side by side! Hello world community residents, are you ready to start a Branch Out adventure?"

Abby Davidson, Lynchburg Grows
Biology and Environmental Science major from Hanover, NJ
"Alternative breaks have really opened my eyes to issues that I've never considered or thought about before. I've always been involved in community service, but the Branch Out model and concept of active citizenship has encouraged me to think beyond just community service to bigger issues and root causes. I've had the chance to see different people's viewpoints and that has completely changed the way I think about social justice."


Catherine Denton, Safe House of Hope
Philosophy major and Arabic minor from just outside of Pittsburgh, PA
"Active citizenship is exciting to me because it means that our service, education, and advocacy are inseparable from one another. I didn't believe that I could have a meaningful impact in the fight for social justice until I went on an alternative break, but from then on I began to ask critical questions and engage with my community. Together we have a responsibility to build better communities, and each of us brings something unique to that project."


Lauren Dickerson, Center for New North Carolinians
History and Government major from Statesville, NC
"I care about active citizenship and Branch Out because I want to be a more complete human who can understand multiple points of view, and why societal injustices exist."


Katie Freund, Outreach360
Economics and Hispanic Studies from Arlington, VA
"I went on two alternative breaks trips (one national and one international) my Freshman year, and have been hooked ever since! In both my majors as well as in my extracurriculars, I focus on social justice and creative paths to economic development, especially through education. My interactions with students of all ages (from preschool all the way through my college Spanish students) keep me excited about what education can do for individuals, regardless of where they come from."


Flo Glynn, Safe House of Hope
Psychology and Religious Studies major from Reston, VA
"I find alternative breaks meaningful and exciting because they are incredibly immersive experiences with amazing groups of people.Through these experiences, people can form strong bonds with others, can expand their understanding about social issues, themselves, and so much more, and can come back to their normal life completely, positively changed."


Madeline Greathouse, 
English major from Sewickley, PA
"I wrote my senior thesis in high school on the UN's Millennial Goal to achieve universal primary education. Ever since, I have been amazed by how much this goal's attainment could help resolve the world's other looming issues. This, combined with my love of travel, inspired me to look into Branch Out and Outreach 360; ever since I made my first trip, I've been hooked and I cannot believe how much the students continue to grow into themselves with each passing year."


Angela Heysel, Campus Pride
Biology major from Virginia Beach, VA
"Alternative breaks are important to me because they give me an opportunity to educate myself on issues that are impacting my community and the people around me. The Branch Out model provides an effective and sustainable way to give back to the community. Along with education and sustainability, Branch Out has also provided me with a group of supportive, involved, and hilarious friends."  


Danielle Horridge, Health Brigade
Biology major from Charlottesville, VA
"Alternative breaks are super important to me because even though I volunteer weekly, daily college life gets busy and it can be really difficult to remember why I volunteer. Going on  alternative breaks gives me a chance to dedicate time toward reflecting, serving, and learning about social issues I am interested in, all while getting to know incredible people and having fun!" 


Dan Jelf, Senior Connections
Computer Science major from Chesapeake, VA
"Alternative Breaks have really opened my eyes, and it's no exaggeration to say that it changed my life. It has really changed the way that I think about service and giving back to the community, and I just want to be able to share that experience with more people."


Shweta Kumar, Northern Neck Free Health Clinic
Neuroscience major from Lorton, VA
"Active citizenship is an inherent aspect of living consciously, rather than drifting along the path that your habits and environment have always led you down. Every decision we make -- as citizens, as consumers, and as inhabitants of the same planet -- has the potential to contribute to hardship or alleviate it."


Morgan McCown, Habitat for Humanity of Loredo County
Psychology major from Richmond, VA
"Branch Out provided me with the best spring break I ever could have imagined. Working with Habitat for Humanity in a very hands-on approach opened my eyes to the issue of affordable housing and gave me a new perspective to go home with. Whether we realize it or not, we are all connected to the issue of affordable housing and play a role in the well-being of our country and those who inhabit it. Branch Out and Habitat for Humanity help to bridge this gap and provide participants with opportunities to better themselves and the communities we work in."


Taylor Medley, Campus Pride
Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and Public Policy major from Roanoke, VA
"I believe communities hold the power to unite us and alternative breaks provide a way to learn from unique communities, carry out strong direct service in the pursuit of shared justice, and build connections outside with partners outside of our small campus. We see real culture change when our communities come together, empower and educate each other, and build relationships ~ that's what active citizenship and alternative breaks are all about and why I've found my home here!" 


Dana Moore, OAR and Lemon Project
Physics major from Petersburg, VA
"Branch Out Alternative Breaks has become somewhat of a home for me here at William and Mary. It's introduced to amazing individuals who have inspired me to strive towards active citizenship and I feel honored to call some of them my best friends now. Every trip is eye- opening and I get excited for each one that I get to facilitate! It's really allowed me to learn about so many different social justice issues that I would never have thought to even think about. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity become involved and be a part of such a supportive and life changing community." 


Forrest Owens, Center for New North Carolinians
Public Policy major from Chesapeake, VA
"Alternative breaks are important to me because often times we get caught up in the monotony of this world. The constant hustle and bustle of life at the College creates this bubble where sometimes we aren’t able to fully see/experience things that are happening outside of our community. Alternative breaks give us the opportunity to experience things that we normally wouldn’t have been a part of while allowing us to be more engaged citizens."


Elena Parcell, Northern Neck Free Health Clinic
Biology major and History minor from Arlington, VA
"Branch Out has been one of the highlights of my time at the College! My courses at the College have all encouraged me to think critically about science and humanities, but Branch Out has taught me how to think critically about service and the root causes of social issues, which has enriched my experiences with strong direct service.Through Branch Out I have learned how to move towards becoming an active citizen, viewing issues through a social justice lens and taking time to understand a social issue as fully as possible. I have also loved meeting so many passionate, thoughtful people, both at the College and through community partnerships!"


Erica Schneider, Innisfree Village
Linguistics major from Falls Church, VA
"Alternative breaks have changed how I look at service. Being an active citizen requires more than just a desire for change, and Branch Out has taught be how to think critically about service and not just do the service, but educate myself and others about the underlying issues."


Kat Shuab, SPAID
International Relations major from Lancaster, PA
"Service is important to me because there are so many opportunities I would never have had without the support of people around me, so I want to do my part to create those same opportunities for others. Alternative breaks are a great way to learn about a social issue through the eyes of someone experiencing that issue authentically, and they provide the tools to raise awareness outside of the break experience." 


TyDazia Talley, SPAID
Sociology and English major from Norfolk, VA
"I love alternative breaks because even if you decide to go on an alternative break just to go somewhere while on break, the result is your development into an active citizen because you learn so much about yourself and the world around you. Personally, I have always enjoyed giving myself to a good cause because so many people have given themselves to my cause and I think that's what keeps the world functioning." 


Sarah Thoresen, Project Homes
American Studies and Government major from Glastonbury, CT
"I have always found community through service, especially alternative breaks. Branch Out has provided me with an opportunity to meet people who have opinions and experiences that have widened my world view and helped to clarify my own values." 


Matt Wong, Health Brigades
Neuroscience major from McLean, VA
"Going on an alternative break gave me a sense of what it is like to fight for social justice and shaped my career goals."