Previous Fellows Profiles

Lauren Jurgensen

Lauren Jurgensen of Rocky Point, North Carolina graduated from Heide Trask High School. During her time abroad, Lauren worked in Puerto Rico and in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In Puerto Rico, Lauren worked on several farms, and on one of them she learned the full process of making coffee. In Bishkek, Lauren worked for Labrys, and organization devoted to fighting for LGBTIQA rights in Central Asia. While there, she also greatly improved her Russian skills.

At UNC, Lauren studies Russian and Anthropology with a minor in Philosophy. She is a UNC Bonner Leader, a member of Criminal Justice Action and Awareness, and a Committee for Queerer Carolina.

At Heide Trask High School, Lauren was the drum major of the marching band, and Vice President of the Project Unify Club. She earned top chairs as a flute player in various county, district, and honors bands and was a member of National Honors Society, […]

Thilini Weerakkody

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Thilini Weerakkody of Chapel Hill, North Carolina graduated from Chapel Hill High School. During her Gap Year, she traveled to Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Greece. In Sri Lanka, she worked with a regional epidemiologist working on Dengue Fever and in a home for the disabled. In Madagascar, Thilini worked as a public relations intern for Conservation Fusion, organizing a program on the vital relationships between human beings and plant life. In Greece, she worked on a permaculture farm.

Now back at Carolina, Thilini is studying Studying Public Health and Global Studies. She is continuing her work with KIDZU Children’s Museum, and is a Bonner Leader through the UNC Campus Y.

Sophie Nachman

Sophie Nachman of Chapel Hill, North Carolina spent her entire Gap Year in Morocco, with additional travel throughout Western Europe. While in Morocco, she lived in Rabat and Dar si Hmad. In Rabat Sophie taught as an English language Teaching Assistant at AMIDEAST, a non-profit organization that works to foster stronger relationships between the Middle East and the United States. In Dar Si Hmad, Sophie worked with the RISE Student Program, leading English conversation workshops and helping to facilitate a local journalism club.

At UNC, Sophie is a violinist with the UNC symphony orchestra, and is pursuing majors in Biostatistics and Computer Science with a Minor in Women’s Studies.

At Woods Charter School Sophie was involved in weekly writing workshops and school publications. Outside of school she was a dedicated musician, playing violin for 13 years and participating in the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra for the last 4 years […]

MaryBeth Thomas

MaryBeth Thomas of Bakersville, North Carolina graduated from Mitchell High School with highest honors. During her year abroad, MaryBeth worked in Arusha, Tanzania; Acornhoek, South Africa; and traveled in Egypt and Madagascar. While in Tanzania, MaryBeth worked at the Good Hope Orphanage teaching music to local children. In South Africa she interned with the Agincourt Public Health center, working on community engagement and public health research.

Back at Carolina, MaryBeth is pursuing majors in Biostatistics in the Gillings School of Public Health, and Fine Art. She is a Carolina Research Scholar, and has been awarded the Clyde and Mildred Wright Endowment Scholarship. MaryBeth is a member of the varsity fencing team at Carolina, and is active with UNC Global Music Outreach.

At Mitchell High School, MaryBeth graduated with highest honors. She was active in technical theatre, and was drum major in the marching band. She attended Governor’s School […]

Klaus Mayr

Klaus Mayr of Charlotte, North Carolina, graduated from Myers Park High School. During his year abroad, Klaus worked in Acornhoek, South Africa, and Bogotá, Columbia. In South Africa, he worked for Sustaining Natural Resources in African Ecosystems (SUNRAE), a research institute dedicated to creating more sustainable relationships between local environments and the communities that rely on them. At SUNRAE, Klaus conducted field research, created maps, and generally assisted the program in increasing its impact. In Bogotá, Klaus worked for Agruppa, a social Enterprise working to revolutionize agricultural supply chains in Colombia. As an intern, he researched ways for Agruppa to increase its impact among rural farmers in Columbia.

Now, at UNC, Klaus is studying Political Science with minors in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) and sustainability. He is a member of the “Que Rico” latin dance team, and an Advocate at the Community Empowerment Fund. He is also the […]

Anna Bennett

Anna Bennett of Garner, North Carolina graduated from Garner Magnet High School where she was involved with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. She was a performer in all of the shows at Garner as well as a director for the Spring One Act production, and the Choreographer for the past four musicals at Garner. She was given the opportunity to play a lead role her junior and senior year. For at least one year she has been a member of the BETA Club, GMHS Drama Leadership Team, Homecoming Committee, Homecoming Court, YoungLife, and the Cross Country Team. Outside of school, she is a dancer with Feet On Fire, a competitive clogging team. She is passionate about service and she spends Saturday afternoons tutoring refugee children with Net Church Academy. Every year she participates in Appalachian Service Project and Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network. For her gap year, she hopes to […]

Kalli Bunch

At the end of her senior year in high school, Kalli was unsure about what she wanted to study at Carolina. When she received the Global Gap Year Fellowship she was relieved: this was an opportunity to get to know herself, think about her goals, and serve others. She travelled to Nepal and Sri Lanka, renovating temples and working with children in orphanages.
Kalli left the United States wanting to return and study chemistry. Two years later she finds herself at the beginning of her sophomore year as a Global Studies major. She hasn’t entirely given up on chemistry, but after her gap year she knew she didn’t want to work in labs.
Kalli’s gap year has also played a role in her class selections. She has drawn to classes on the impact of humanitarianism and on human geography. Her experiences questioning the meaning of an American identity abroad […]

Bella Hernandez

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In high school, Bella Hernandez had always been successful. She was the president of several clubs and student groups, taught mini-sessions, and got good grades. When it came to preparing for college, however, something was missing. She didn’t feel ready to make the most out of college and generally did not feel ready to continue her studies. Understanding this about herself, Bella took a gap year through the Global Gap Year Fellowship and travelled to India, Iceland, and Germany, where she taught English and science, worked in a mental hospital, and volunteered at an orphanage.

The gap year gave Bella a global perspective of college education. Her experiences abroad have encouraged her to move away from her initial plan of studying philosophy towards something with more practical applications. While abroad, Bella came to see medical research as the best way to make a truly global impact. She plans to become […]