Tiger Breaks and The Trinity Bubble


Image submitted by Josh Sharpe

Tiger Breaks students at one of their planned service trips

Gabriela Yeackle
Logistics Coordinator for Tiger Breaks
Junior double majoring in English and political science

The Trinity Bubble. It’s something every Trinity student, whether newcomer or long-timer, knows about. Even if you’ve never heard the phrase, you’re aware of its existence. Due to a perfect storm of circumstances, many of which were exacerbated by the pandemic, students who reside on campus are inevitably bound by its constraints. The elements composing this storm include San Antonio’s car-centric urban planning (as discussed in a Sept. 22 article by Alejandra Gerlach) and a lack of broader community engagement on the part of Trinity as a whole.

A quick glance at Trinity’s promotional materials or snippets of a tour guide’s spiel would lead you to believe that the location of our campus means you need only walk out of your dorm to find yourself immersed in the social and cultural offerings of San Antonio. However, as you already know, this is far from reality.

The truth of the matter is, the majority of student organizations and university-sponsored events focus on stimulating interactions among Trinity students, faculty, staff and alumni. It’s understandable, of course. For most student organizations, available resources and the need to make an event as appealing as possible dictate that it takes place on campus. You’re typically more likely to attract participants if they don’t have to go out of their way to find you.

But there’s a whole lot more to the college experience than on-campus activities. We’re doing ourselves a disservice by not encouraging students to explore the city or by advertising only trendy areas like the Pearl or downtown.

In preparation for this article, I sat down with my fellow Tiger Breaks executives, Josh Sharpe (President) and Piper Thomas (Marketing Coordinator). They are some of the most involved students I know, participating in everything from Greek Life to the Admissions team, and from the Prowlers to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office. Yet despite their involvement in on-campus organizations and jobs, they still felt that there was something missing.

Thomas describes the difficulties of “determin[ing] what was the bubble and what was Covid” during her first two years at Trinity. “Things were slowly opening up, but there were still restrictions,” Thomas said. “Knowing where to go was difficult. There was not much information on campus on how to get around and what things [there were] to do.” For Sharpe, awareness of the Trinity Bubble didn’t come about until he had the opportunity to participate in an internship with Green Spaces Alliance. Having an internship “after sophomore year, working with community gardens, [and] going to different parts of the city, [he] finally became aware of the different cultural centers,” Sharpe said.

All three of us share concerns about the potential harm that can be done if students never participate in the broader San Antonio community. It’s a large part of why we decided to work for Tiger Breaks. We want to find ways to make up for the lack of community involvement and minimize the isolation and school stress that become overwhelming when students’ entire lives revolve around campus.

Our goal is to provide students with opportunities to engage in service, learn about social justice issues and get a feel for what San Antonio and beyond has to offer. While Tiger Breaks is unique in that it was specifically designed to get students off-campus, our hope is that other student organizations will join us in expanding the scope of the Trinity Bubble. Stay up-to-date on events, encourage members to attend those that relate to your organization’s interests and, when possible, carpool so that students without a vehicle don’t get left behind.

Breaking free from our comfort zone is never easy. There will always be challenges to overcome, both logistical and emotional. But there are so many experiences waiting to be had throughout the city. Whether it’s trying a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, catching a live show or supporting local businesses, we owe it to ourselves to branch out and finally burst our bubble.