Fifty-two percent of millennials in the United States believe they can make a positive difference in the world, according to a recent study by global telecommunications company Telefónica and the Financial Times.

That sense of optimism can be felt in UCF students, many of whom are forgoing sandy beaches during spring break this week in favor of participating in one of the 11 service activities of the Alternative Break Program, a Volunteer UCF initiative, or working with independent groups.

Two years ago, finance and economics senior Casey Field was working with orphanages in Guatemala to help disadvantaged and disabled children. This year she will travel to the Dominican Republic with Project Esperanza, rebuilding more than 62 homes burned down by fire, working with local craftswomen, and leading sex-education classes.

“When presented with the opportunity to go, I immediately said yes,” Field said. “Being able to learn from a community of women in the DR, experience a new culture, and serve with so many fellow Knights is the most rewarding way I can imagine spending my spring break.”

Nhu Nguyen, a human resources major and SGA senator, is volunteering her time in Alabama packaging healthy meals for hungry children in the United States and refugees at the Syria-Turkey border as a part of Feeding Children Everywhere.

“I joined FCE for experience but I stayed for another semester because I believe in their mission,” Nguyen said. “For each ‘hunger project,’ we get to assemble between 30,000 and 100,000 meals for children, for both local and international food pantries. It is quite an experience seeing the direct impact of what we are doing.”

It’s not just undergraduate students joining in the spring break volunteerism.

Graduate volunteers from the DeVos Sport Business Management program are headed to New Orleans as part of the Hope for Stanley Alliance, founded by the program director, Richard Lapchick. Fourteen students will help rebuild homes in the Lower Ninth Ward that were affected by Hurricane Katrina and assist with drywall, painting and flooring.

“Volunteering allows me to leave my personal worries behind and see that there’s a greater need out there, and that I can make a profound difference in people’s lives,” said graduate assistant Sara Sanchez.