S&T students to help out on two coasts during spring break

Instead of partying, lying on the beach or catching up on their sleep, 30 Missouri University of Science and Technology students will spend their spring break this year doing service work in Mississippi and New Jersey.


The students are involved in Missouri S&T’s Miner Challenge, a week-long alternative spring break program that gives them a chance to help individuals and communities affected by issues like poverty, homelessness and natural disasters, while developing their own leadership skills. This is the sixth year of the program.

“We already had two groups registered to go to Biloxi, when Hurricane Sandy struck,” says Benjamin White, student program administrator for volunteerism and involvement at Missouri S&T. “People kept asking me what they could do, so we arranged for a third group to go to New Jersey to help with hurricane damage recovery.”

Half of the students heading to Biloxi, Miss., will work in early childhood education at Head Start. The other half will work on environmental restoration of the Gulf Coast.

The teams leave on Saturday, March 23, and return on Saturday, March 30.

Those interested in helping sponsor the students are encouraged to visit the Miner Challenge website at minerchallenge.wordpress.com. The students are also holding several fundraisers to help finance their trips. Additional information is available online.

Missouri S&T students participating in Miner Challenge are:

Billoxi Team (early childhood education)

  • Abdullah AlHaji, a senior in petroleum engineering from Saudi Arabia
  • Cagatay “Ty” Atmaca, a graduate student in geology and geophysics from Rolla (team leader)
  • Nicole Cochran, a sophomore in engineering from O’Fallon, Mo.
  • Chelsea Ehret, a junior in biological sciences from Thayer, Mo.
  • Sarah Jones, a junior in applied mathematics from Saint Charles, Mo. (team leader)
  • Neda Khalafi, a graduate student in manufacturing engineering from Iran
  • Shelby McNeil, a junior in applied mathematics from Republic, Mo.
  • Emily Puleo, a junior in chemistry from St. Louis

Billoxi Team (environmental restoration)

  • Abdulrazak AlHajji, a senior in petroleum engineering from Saudi Arabia
  • Mohammed AlQassab, a senior in petroleum engineering from Saudi Arabia
  • Raheel Hassan, a junior in biological sciences from St. Louis (team leader)
  • Elise Kittrell, a graduate student in environmental engineering from Jensen Beach, Fla. (team leader)
  • Courtney Kulinski, a sophomore in environmental engineering from Brookfield, Ill.
  • Carol Pint, a senior in environmental engineering from Evanston, Ill.
  • Molly Prickett, a senior in environmental engineering from Kearney, Mo.
  • Mary Puleo, a sophomore in engineering from St. Louis
  • Lauren Todd, a senior in geology and geophysics from Raytown, Mo.

New Jersey Team (hurricane relief)

  • Ryan Beck, a junior in mechanical engineering from Louisburg, Kan. (team leader)
  • Andrea Brockmann, a senior in psychology from Beaufort, Mo.
  • Melissa Buechlein, a senior in geological engineering from St. Louis
  • Jamie Clark, a sophomore in environmental engineering from Eolia, Mo.
  • Thomas Cooper, a sophomore in information science and technology from O’Fallon, Mo.
  • Ian Denaro, a senior in physics from Rolla
  • Nathan Dowd, a senior in civil engineering from Lee’s Summit, Mo.
  • Ryley Gardner, a freshman in engineering from Ozark, Mo.
  • Jessica Harvey, a junior in civil engineering from St. Louis
  • Christopher Horn, a senior in mechanical engineering from Tulsa, Okla.
  • Ashley Koesterer, a sophomore in economics from St. Louis
  • Marquia Lewis, a sophomore in computer science from Florissant, Mo.
  • Mary Ponzer, a junior in chemical engineering from Salem, Mo.