KU News Release


Sept. 26, 2011
Contact: Stephanie Jian, Alternative Breaks, 785-312-4223

Alternative Breaks, Center for Community Outreach host first annual Story Slam

More Information

LAWRENCE — Alternative Breaks and the Center for Community Outreach are hosting the first annual Story Slam on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. The event will be followed by a reception with food and drink in the Big XII room.

A story slam is an event like a poetry slam, but instead of sharing poems, participants share stories around a central theme.

Eight alumni and students will share stories about their volunteer experiences with Alternative Breaks and/or the Center for Community Outreach and how these experiences affected them personally, academically and professionally. English faculty member Mary Klayder will host the event.

The event’s storytellers are current KU students, staff and alumni and are listed below.

Maggie Beedles
Maggie Beedles first participated in Alternative Breaks as a senior in high school. At KU, she was an Alternative Breaks coordinator, Alternative Breaks finance director and co-director of CCO. Maggie left KU to work at local non-profits with a focus on children and is now a mother of three, a midwifery student, and co-owner of Feaster’s Bistro, a farm-to-table restaurant in Baldwin City.

Will Dale
Will Dale is a sophomore from Topeka studying English and American Studies. He currently serves as the Development Director for the Center for Community Outreach, and participated in an Alternative Break with Teach for America in Chicago this past January. Will was one of forty college students selected to participate on the PBS Student Freedom Ride this past May.

Erin Fleming
Erin Fleming is a second year law student at the University of Kansas. She received her BA in English and her BS in Journalism from the University of Kansas. She worked as the legislative director for the Kansas/Missouri DREAM Alliance, an organization fighting for the rights of undocumented students, and co-founded the KU Student Coalition for Immigrant Rights. She went on an Alternative Spring Break trip to work with the humanitarian organization, No More Deaths, at the US-Mexico Border providing water, food and medical aid to migrants.

Melanie Gorges
Melanie Gorges is a senior from Andale studying Secondary English and Spanish Education. She is a former Alternative Summer Breaks coordinator and participated in an Alternative Winter Break trip in 2009. Melanie hopes to pursue a Masters Degree in Special Education and incorporate service learning into the classroom.

Elaine Jardon
Elaine Jardon received her BS in Secondary Language Arts Education and her MSEd in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas. She served as the co-director of the Center for Community Outreach during the 2006-2007 academic year and received the Chancellor's Student Award in 2007. She currently works as a language arts teacher at Topeka High School and is passionate about improving students' literacy skills as a means of promoting social justice.

Annie McBride
Annie McBride participated in Alternative Winter Breaks in January of 2000 and served as co-coordinator of Alternative Winter Breaks in 2001. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism from KU in 2003 and went on to work in politics and retail management. Currently, Annie is working on her master’s degree in higher education administration at KU.

Jeff Severin
Jeff Severin graduated from the University of Kansas with a BA in Environmental Studies in 2001. As an undergraduate, Jeff participated in two Alternative Spring Breaks, both to environmental sites. He also co-founded GROW, a CCO program that started as a garden at the Boys and Girls club and has developed into an effort focused on teamwork, nutrition and environmental awareness. Jeff currently serves as the director of the KU Center for Sustainability.

Adam Strunk
Adam Strunk is a senior majoring in journalism and English. Adam grew up on a farm five miles west of Wichita and hopes to pursue a career in community or investigative journalism. Adam has been co-coordinator of CCO program EARTH for the past two years and has been working in the campus garden for the last four years.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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