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An ‘Alternative’ Path to Giving Back

Several years ago, municipal law attorney Michael Estrada would never have guessed that he would be digging ditches in Appalachia with a group of 18 to 23 year olds, but sometimes life takes you where you least expect it.

It all started when Estrada, a UC San Diego alumnus, was diagnosed with throat cancer. While undergoing treatment, he read an issue of the campus’s alumni magazine, Triton, which featured an article on a fellow alumnus who supports the university’s Alternative Breaks program. As part of the service-learning organization, students embark on global service-learning trips as a meaningful way to give back to society.

“It made me look at all the things that affected my life, and UC San Diego was an important one,” Estrada recalls. “Alternative Breaks sounded interesting, and I recognized that it was time to start doing things I had put off. I was overwhelmed by the esprit de corps – the enthusiasm of the students for the program and the projects.”

With his cancer defeated, Estrada reached out to learn more about the program. After three years of providing support and taking part as a mentor, Estrada established the Michael Estrada Alternative Breaks Scholarship Endowment with a gift of $50,000 to help ensure that students in need could participate in the program. He also designated the newly established endowment as a beneficiary of his estate.