Graduate bikes 4,160 miles to build houses

Author: Sabrina Tartaglia '21

Published Date: 5/4/2018

Categories: Alumni


Alumna Emily Gilles '18

Biking 4,160 miles through the hot summer months of 2018 is how Emily Gilles '18 looks forward to spending her first summer as a Carroll alumna. Pedaling through mountains and cities while making stops to build houses will become her new journey. 

Gilles will be participating in the Bike and Build program starting this June.

Bike and Build helps benefit the affordable housing cause through service-oriented cycling trips, traveling in groups of about 30 bikers. Offering three cross-country routes, they bike around 4,000 miles while making stops along the route to help build houses in the span of about two and a half months. Gilles will be taking part in the Northern United States (NUS) route starting in Portsmouth, NH on June 10th and ending in Bellingham, WA on August 25th, making stops in places such as New York and Madison to build homes. 



She explained, “I chose the Northern U.S. route because of my desire of riding through mountains and, of course, how close to home the route goes. I am excited to be able to see places close to my hometown that I haven’t seen before.” 

In preparation for her trip she has been training almost every day, taking online safety courses required by the program and completing 10 hours of volunteer time with the affordable housing cause.

She is juggling not only school work but also training to meet the criteria which includes having to bike a minimum of 500 miles along with a hill, night, group and rain ride. Starting in New Hampshire and ending in Washington, Gilles’ months of strenuous training will pay off as she is coasting alongside mountains or the lakefront of a city. 

During her time here at Carroll, Gilles found herself with a drive for giving back. If she’s not back home in Wausau, WI coaching kids on how to ski, she is in the classroom working hard towards her nursing degree.

Each time Gilles prepares to embark on a new adventure she remembers her stepdad, who passed away four and a half years ago, as someone who gave back by helping others. After visiting Ireland, her stepdad’s favorite country, she decided to also take on biking, his favorite pastime. Inspired by him, she is dedicated to give back whether it is in the Carroll community or her hometown.



Gilles started her academic career at Carroll in the fall of 2013, and since then has been working towards her bachelor of science in nursing and will be graduating this May. During her time at Carroll she participated in the Student Nurses Association (SNA) and Alpha Gamma Delta sorority (AGD). Joining Alpha Gamma Delta gave her a handful of community service opportunities with her sisters such as running blood drives, highway clean ups and participating in Relay For Life.

Gilles noted, “My favorite memories at Carroll all involve spending time and bonding with my AGD sisters while also giving back to the community.” 

Although Gilles is undeniably excited for the trip she is a little nervous of the challenges to come. She stated, “It is going to be a physical challenge of having to ride every day and then make stops to help build houses.”

Even though it may seem like a lot right now she is more excited about how much it is going to pay off during the trip being able to enjoy such a unique opportunity. 

While preparing for her trip this summer, Gilles also keeps in mind the big impact giving back to others has. The one thing that always stuck out to her during all of the service opportunities she had with Alpha Gamma Delta at Carroll were the people’s responses.

She noted, “Volunteering has led me to take part in Bike and Build, how it feels to give back and how much the people appreciate it really shows the impact.” 

Learn more about Emily and her trip with the Bike and Build program.