Collegiate Challenge Brief History at SJU 




                Collegiate Challenge is a year-round alternative break program run through Habitat for Humanity International. At the beginning of the summer break, SJU students volunteer their time and energy to travel to Habitat affiliates throughout the United States. There, they participate in week-long building activities provided by their host site and learn about the culture and geography of the area in which they are immersed.Although started in 1989, Collegiate Challenge didn’t make its way to Saint Joseph ‘s University until 2003, when two student leaders spearhead a campaign to bring it to St. Joe’s.The two students, Brian Rizman, ’06, and Tara Collery, ’06, were highly involved in service organizations on campus, but felt that there were not enough options for all the students who felt compelled to become involved.  They immediately took Jeffery up on his offer, and Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Challenge was born.”Both Brian and Tara were interested in creating an immersion service opportunity that was similar in nature to Project Appalachia,” said Jeffery. “Both Brian and Tara had been involved with Project Appalachian, which were great experiences for them, but they were both also involved in St. Joe’s Habitat for Humanity program. These two programs greatly influenced them and became the foundation on which they wanted to build Collegiate Challenge.”After researching Habitat for Humanity and the Collegiate Challenge program, Rizman and Collery, began planning the first SJU Collegiate Challenge trip to Taos, New Mexico.  In the summer of 2004, Rizman and Collery, along with their advisor, Jeffery, led a group of 13 St. Joe’s students to work with Habitat for Humanity Taos, Inc. for a week. There, they helped to build Adobe homes, which are made of mud and brick, with other Taos Community members.Since that first Collegiate Challenge trip, the program has grown exponentially.  To accommodate the growing interest, Rizman and Collery expanded the leadership team to include two program co-coordinators and two group leaders per trip.  This leadership teams worked with Jeffery, as the Collegiate Challenge program advisor, to organize future trips.

Student interest in the program has grown each year, in 2005, the program expanded to two trips with about 40 participants; in 2006, a third trip was added;  in 2007 the program grew to four trips; in 2008 and 2009 the program remained at 4 trips with about 80 total participants.  Participation has continued to increase with 6 Collegiate Challenge trips and over 100 SJU students.