Go to Admissions home page.Tab Bar

Ask Us

Students Today, Leaders Forever Pay It Forward Tour 2013

Guest blog written by Sara Straskowski, a current student in the Carlson School of Management

Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF) is a student group that was started by four freshmen students at the University of Minnesota in 2003. With the mission to "reveal leadership through service, relationships, and action," STLF engages students from all over the country through its Pay It Forward Tours. A Pay It Forward Tour is a community service road trip that travels from city to city doing various service projects. For college students, "the Tour" is scheduled each year during spring break; there are also tours available for high school students at various times throughout the year.

This spring break, I participated in my third college Pay It Forward Tour. The experience never ceases to amaze me! My freshman year, I travelled to Memphis; my sophomore year I went to Dallas; this year, the destination city was Atlanta, Georgia. For the last two years, I was a participant on the Tour, but this year I took a leadership position in STLF, and planned the Tour along with four other students who soon became my best friends. 

We left from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities on March 15. Our first stop was Kansas City, Missouri, and our first service project was landscaping for the Gillis Center, a home for boys in the area that helps at-risk children and families. We even got to play a game of dodge ball with the boys who lived there! Next, we stopped in St. Louis, Missouri, where we were able to do some tourism at The Gateway Arch and the City Museum. We helped the St. Louis community by cleaning up the streets around the city and writing letters to soldiers overseas. The third city on our adventure was Bowling Green, Kentucky, where we volunteered at Community Action of Southern Kentucky (a nonprofit agency that provides a wide range of human services to the residents of the area). We made event decorations for them as well as cleaned up the office space they use every day. After Bowling Green, we stopped for tourism in Nashville, Tennessee. It has been my dream to visit the Music City forever, and I can't believe I was finally able to be there! Our next stop was in Merryville, Tennessee, where we painted and did gardening work at the Boys & Girls Club of Blount County, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of boys and girls in a safe and caring environment. On our way to our last stop, we toured the city of Gatlinberg in the Smoky Mountains. The area was absolutely beautiful! Last but not least, we stopped in Charlotte, North Carolina to serve at Samaritan's Feet; we readied the shoes that will soon be sent across the U.S. and the world to those who can't afford to buy their own. After our service project, we went to the U.S. National Whitewater Center to go zip-lining and rock climbing--one of the most memorable highlights of our trip!

We finally made our way to Atlanta, where we met four other buses of students that had each had an amazing Tour as well. We did one final service project together; the 140 students served at the Mary Scott Nature Park doing a variety of jobs such as creating a children's "forest play" area and removing invasive species throughout the park. After the service project, we were able to do some tourism in Atlanta and see the city. I was sad that the trip was nearly over, but I had a fantastic time exploring Atlanta with my new friends!

The memories I made on this trip are unforgettable, and the 43 friends I made throughout the nine-day experience will be held close to my heart for years to come. Every single one of the participants on my bus amazed me more each day; they are the most compassionate people I know! I encourage you all to check out the great opportunities that are offered to you every day, such as the STLF Pay It Forward Tour. It changed my life forever, and I will always be proud of my decision to get involved at the U of M with Student's Today, Leaders Forever.


208768_10200770899138513_1373124300_n.jpg

208689_10151357403619607_1549183599_n.jpg

zipline.jpg

st. louis.jpg

MN.jpg

bus core.jpg

group.jpg

service.jpg


Apply Visit Ask Us Home