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UNC Global Gap Year Fellows to serve in U.S. this fall

June 12, 2020 • Erin Reitz • No Comments

Due to COVID-19, the UNC Global Gap Year Fellowship (GGYF) will restructure its 2020-2021 programming and support nine Global Gap Year Fellows and two Bridge Year Fellows as they pursue domestic service opportunities. Although Fellows won’t be able to go “global” this fall, GGYF Program Director Sarah Smith is certain local service has the power to reshape world views and inspire critical self-reflection.

“This year’s Fellows are choosing to work in communities and locations that are very different from where they grew up,” explained Smith. “Regardless of whether their service requires a passport or not, it’s still pushing them to step out of their comfort zones and grow.”

Traditionally, the Global Gap Year Fellowship supports a select group of incoming first-years and two rising juniors who defer a year of university enrollment to participate in individual volunteer service, work, and international travel. Fellows can select a self-designed path, which allows them to choose the country and public service organizations where they will volunteer; or they can select the Global Citizen Year path, an 8-month leadership development program in a community in Brazil, Ecuador, India, or Senegal.

Because Global Citizen Year has cancelled its global programming, all eleven 2020-2021 GGY Fellows will self-design their gap years. They are currently exploring volunteer opportunities in areas such as voter registration, refugee and migrant advocacy, and environmental conservation through the winter. In late 2020, Smith will look to University policies to determine whether Fellows can serve abroad during the second half of their gap years.

In spite of this uncertainty, the cornerstone tenets of the GGYF will endure. Smith and her team will hold a week-long virtual summer orientation in July and begin teaching Fellows about the importance of ethical community partnerships, active listening, self-care, and safety. The year’s programming will look different, but Smith maintains that the year ahead will transform the way Fellows view the world, themselves, and their futures.

“Our Fellows’ commitment to self-discovery and service is really coming at an opportune time. So many communities in our country are in need right now,” said Smith. “Even though we’re not sure if we’ll be ‘global’ this year, GGYF is ultimately a program for Carolina students who are committed to service and change. I can’t wait to witness the impact this cohort will make.”

Meet the 2020-2021 Global Gap Year Fellows:
(bios compiled and written by GGYF alum, Georgia Morgan ’22)

Abby Rogers | Raleigh, NC

Abby Rogers went to Middle Creek High School where she was involved in various activities including Key Club, Jane Goodall Institute’s National Roots & Shoots Youth Leadership Council, Quiz Bowl, and the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER Committee. Abby is passionate about growth and justice and hopes to utilize her Gap Year to continue her family’s Carolina legacy while also making her experience unique by pushing herself to see different places and meet new people before starting her college education. Abby is passionate about women’s and girl’s rights and education and plans to work with female empowerment NGOs and women’s shelters domestically and abroad if given the chance. She also loves the outdoors and plans to go on a long-term backpacking Outward Bound experience during her Gap Year as well.


Ander Naugle | Flagler Beach, FL

Ander Naugle recently graduated from Flagler Palm Coast High School where he was involved with the school’s football team, track and field, the International Baccalaureate Program, Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Spanish Honors Society, Model United Nations, and Project Blossom (a volunteering program at the local elementary school). Ander is passionate about medicine and public health and hopes to use his gap year to gain experience in the medical field both domestically and abroad if given the chance. Ander’s three main goals for his gap year are to become fluent in Spanish, understand his family’s Venezuelan culture better, and to work in the medical field. He is looking into completing his EMT training and shadowing hospitals or clinics during his Gap Year. If given the opportunity to go abroad, Ander is hoping to go to South America and South Africa. Ander “hopes to be a voice of influence for the country I have experienced with GGYF on UNC’s campus and promote dialogue that transcends beyond national boundaries,” after returning from his Gap Year experience.


Halden Levin | Pinehurst, NC

Halden Levin recently graduated from North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Halden is passionate about everything from athletics to disability culture to poetry and foreing languages. Reflective of these passions, Halden was involved in many different activities in high school, serving as cross country co-captain, a Chinese dancer, Neuroscience Teaching Assistant, Bridge II Sports Volunteer, Speech and Debate Co-President, NCSSM Poets Society Co-Founder, and more! She continues to stay active in supporting her older brother as a Bridge II Sports athlete and working as a Market Street Press Employee and Bergelson Lab research assistant. Halden is passionate about Chinese language and culture, exampning disability from psychological, neurological, and anthropological perspectives, as well as poetry and public speaking. She hopes to use her gap year to enrich these passions and interests of hers and eventually pursue a career in pediatric neurology with a focus for children with neurodevelopmental disorders internationally.


Jaya Dayal | Orlando, FL

Jaya Dayal recently graduated from Lake Highland Preparatory School. In high school, Jaya was involved in Water for the World (a club focused on ending inaccessibility to clean water), debate, research, student government, and volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club. Jaya is passionate about environmental advocacy, equality, and clean water accessibility. Jaya hopes to gain experience in advocacy and activism by gaining new perspectives and cultural understandings from working with service oriented organizations. On her Gap Year, Jaya hopes to work with organizations that address accessibility to clean water, the intersection of gender and climate change [women’s empowerment as it related to climate change] and sexual assault prevention advocacy. She is also interested in learning Hindi and connecting to her family’s cultural roots.


Karsen Kennedy | Fuquay Varina, NC

Karsen Kennedy recently graduated from Harnett Central High School. At Harnett Central, Karsen was concertmaster for her school’s orchestra as a violinist and was involved with Young Political Activist Club and Joyful Sound. Karsen’s passions lie in music, animals, environmental advocacy, and learning new languages. Karsen has been independently studying Korean and Thai and is interested in continuing to learn ASL and Spanish. Her desiree to take a Gap Year “spurs from her longing to see people.” Karsen is eager to come back to Carolina and her hometown with a “positive and eager mindset that is open and ready to learn” after “meeting, experiencing, and seeing so many diverse people, cultures, and beliefs.” During her Gap Year, Karsen hopes to continue to enrich her language education and work with organizations that cater to her passions for animal advocacy, environmental justice, and music. Overall, Karsen is excited to form connections within a new environment and learn from working with new service oriented organizations.


Kyra Koons | Raleigh, NC

Kyra Koons recently graduated from Enloe High School where she was very involved in her school’s soccer and tennis teams as well as Spanish club, mock trial, and visual art. Kyra is very passionate about sports, visual art, and language learning, which is reflected in her high school activities and her Gap Year goals. Kyra wants to take a gap year to “explore ideas and service opportunities that [she] might otherwise not have had exposure to.” With this, she also intends to become fluent in Spanish by the end of her Gap Year and work with organizations that cater to her passions in Spanish, sports, and visual art. Kyra hopes to use her Spanish language and literacy skills in the world of business at Carolina and beyond. If given the opportunity to go abroad, Kyra would love to go to Spain or Italy. Kyra is excited about this opportunity to “transition from a narrow ‘field-of-view’ tinto a broader perspective to grow into the role of an active member of [her] community.”


Makenna Hartwich | Winston-Salem, NC

Makenna Hartwich attended Salem Academy boarding school where she was very involved with the academy’s robotics team and various organizations and sports including Girls Up (a girls education advocacy organization), Girls Who Code, Key Club, Model UN, field hockey, swimming, and track. Makenna is very passionate about equality, sustainability, creating things, architecture, and engineering. She is excited to take a Gap Year with GGYF to “learn a new language and immerse [herself] in a new culture, hopefully discovering what she wants to pursue in life along the way.” Makenna is currently considering working with Americorps and/or Water First in Seattle, WA during the domestic component of her Gap Year. Makenna is also passionate about girls’ education and STEM and hopes to work in these fields throughout the course of her Gap Year experience.


McKenzie Roller | Avon, CT

McKenzie Roller recently graduated from Miss Porter’s High School. McKenzie is passionate about social justice, education, public policy, and politics, which is reflective of her extracurriculars in high school. McKenzie started a club called FaceUp that focuses on holding discussions on controversial issues while welcoming all perspectives into the conversation. She was also involved in AWARE (Association for White Enti-Racist Education), and Model UN and was a student athlete, participating in cross country, basketball, and lacrosse. During her Gap Year, Mckenzie hopes to understand the world from perspectives outside of her own, improve her Spanish language skills, and work with organizations that cater to her interests in education, social justice, racial equality, and women and girl’s empowerment. McKenzie is currently considering working with the Equal Justice initiative in Montgomery, Alabama for the domestic component of her Gap Year and hopes to travel to Ecuador or Peru in the spring or summer.


Rose Houck | Greensboro, NC

Rose Houck recently graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC. Rose is passionate about equality, environmental advocacy, and climate justice. During her time as NCSSM, Rose was involved with various climate justice organizations, cross country, and campus service. Rose has conducted independent academic research projects under the guidance of multiple leading environmental science professionals at Duke University and has experience lobbying with state representatives to effectively block corrupt nonrenewable infrastructure legislation. During her Gap Year, Rose hopes to continue her environmental advocacy and climate justice work by working with communities that have been affected by climate change and learn about how such communities are adjusting to the effects of climate change. Rose hopes to return to Carolina as an Environmental Science major and feels that this Gap Year experience with GGYF will provide her with some valuable experiences to build off of during her time at Carolina.


Val Orozco | Greensboro, NC

Val Orozco is from Colombia but recently graduated from Northwest Guilford High School. Val was involved in various sports and clubs, including field hockey, lacrosse, track, speech and debate, multiple service learning organizations, and honors societies for academics, arts, and German. Val is passionate about community engagement, environmental health, and immigrant and refugee rights and advocacy. Val is excited about having an enriching educational experience outside the walls of the traditional classroom. During her Gap Year, Val hopes to work on a farm to explore her environmental health interests and organizations that cater to her passion for immigrant’s rights. Val is currently considering working with Transplanting Traditions, a community garden in Carrboro, NC for the domestic component of her Gap Year and hopes to travel to Brazil and throughout South America in the spring/ summer. Val would like to study Global Studies and Political Science at UNC upon finishing her Gap Year and feels that GGYF will help enrich her studies of these fields.

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