The four Mizzou students who arrived in Hannibal from Columbia on March 9 for a weekend community service project are proud of their university's level of volunteerism in their Mizzou Alternative Breaks organization.

The four Mizzou students who arrived in Hannibal from Columbia on March 9 for a weekend community service project are proud of their university's level of volunteerism in their Mizzou Alternative Breaks organization.

Mizzou has the largest number of students involved in this Alternative Breaks group in the nation, they said.

They travel across Missouri for weekend projects, all done on a voluntary basis with no college credit earned, said Melanie Vasquez. Hannibal was chosen for their project, she said, because “we are planning to do one in each of Missouri's counties, and Marion County had not had one.”

In addition to weekend projects, the students do week-long projects in other states. Vasquez has helped Habitat for Humanity on three week-long projects, in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Under the direction of Bill Glascock, coordinator of the food pantry at Douglass Community Services in Hannibal, the students painted the walls of the food pantry office. When they arrived on Friday, Glascock said, he decided to have them begin painting then and finish Saturday. They were done by noon Saturday, March 10. The four women said they had enjoyed a meal at the Mark Twain Brewing Co.

Three of the students are planning health care careers and one will become a teacher.

Halley Brooks, a sophomore from Memphis, Tenn., is a psychology major and will become a high school teacher.

Jazmine Mensah, a Mizzou junior from a Chicago suburb, is a biology major at Mizzou. She plans to continue her education and become an ophthalmologist.

Brooks and Mensah were on their first Mizzou Alternative Breaks project. Mensah said, “It feels pretty good” to be helping a community.

Bea Coruna, a junior from Sedalia, is a health sciences major. She explained she will graduate early and begin studying at a physical therapy school.

Vasquez, a junior from Cary, Ill., plans to become a physician's assistant. Mizzou Alternative Breaks (MAB) is one of her favorite organizations on campus, she said, because, “It brings people from different corners together and you learn about different backgrounds.” She reported that on weekends, about 300 students go on MAB trips.

Coruna is with MAB for the second year, reporting that “last year I went to Baton Rouge, La., “and helped with Boys and Girls Clubs.”

She added that this type of community project “shows that Mizzou students want to give back and are trying to serve in other places.”

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.