Daniel Almaguer


Daniel Almaguer graduated from Mount Carmel Academy in Houston, Texas, where he participated in student council, Newman Club and the National Honor Society, was captain of the Houston Urban Debate League and was selected as an EMERGE Scholar. During the summer of 2016, Almaguer was a Summer Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis. He plans to travel and serve in Senegal, India, and Nepal.

Read Daniel’s posts from abroad:
Next Stop: India

Viktoria Alston


Viktoria Alston of Havelock graduated from Havelock High School, where she was involved with JROTC, band and participated in the Spanish Club, Interact Club and National Honor Society. Viktoria was also vice-chair and co-chair of the Havelock Youth Advisory Committee. She plans to spend time in Latin America.

You can read Viktoria’s blogs from abroad here:
Born to Adventure
If You’re Going on a Gap Year, Don’t Forget This
Taking Responsibility

Thilini Weerakkody


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.

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 […]

Lee Mook


Lee Mook used the Global Gap Year Fellowship to explore his interests in several fields. In Nicaragua, he built and repaired solar ovens. In Costa Rica, he started a community-based English language program, and in China he attended a Chinese university and taught students English and Spanish.

While abroad, Lee used what little free time he had to read as much as he could. Over time, he became convinced of the value of business as a driver of global change and as a result he hopes to graduate from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business.

More than anything, however, what Lee takes away from his fellowship year is a deeper understanding of the value of language and the impact it can have both on individuals and communities. Having seen first-hand the value of his Spanish and Chinese language skills, Lee has decided to try and make language more accessible back in his […]

Kristen Lee

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Kristen Lee spent the entirety of her Global Gap Year in one country: Brazil. Facilitated by the Global Citizen Year program, she spent the majority of her time there living in a city named Curitiba. Kristen’s work assignments were varied, but she focused especially on sustainable development and urban agriculture. She assisted in different projects related to those issues for city hall in Curitiba.

At the start of her sophomore year, Kristen has not yet declared a major. While abroad she enjoyed investigating different opportunities so much that she wanted to continue that mindset at Carolina. Her academic interests are diverse, ranging from urban planning to demography, from agriculture to real estate and design. Kristen believes that without a gap year she would not have allowed herself as much room to grow and would have focused in on one topic even if she didn’t feel ready for it.

Kristen values […]

Gaby Alemán

Gaby Alemán, Class of 2019, Sri Lanka and Bali, Indonesia
Gaby applied for the Global Gap Year Fellowship in part because as a high school senior she did not yet know how to make the most of her time at UNC. On her gap year, she traveled first to Sri Lanka, where she worked in an orphanage, and then to Bali, where she worked at a school teaching English and working with the community.

For Gaby, one of the important factors connecting the two countries in which she stayed was tourism. Both of these island nations profit from and have to deal with the many issues surrounding tourism. Because she stayed in each place for an extended amount of time, Gaby could see closely the impacts that tourism has had on these communities. Gaby’s experiences abroad have led her to pursue UNC’s Management and Society major.

Her second field of study is […]

Thomas Elliott

Thomas Elliott, Class 2019, South Africa
Besides a short trip to the Netherlands to renew his visa, Thomas spent the entirety of his gap year in rural South Africa. While he was there, he worked with a professor of socio-ecology, studying the ways humans interact and impact the environment around them.

Before he left for his fellowship year, Thomas had little idea of what academia meant or why he was planning to go to UNC in the first place. During his gap year, however, he was able to witness and participate in academic research, occasionally leading a team in the field. Not only that, the positive impact academia could have on the lives of community members was very much present in the area he worked in, and he grew to appreciate what it means both to serve and to conduct research in a responsible manner.

Thomas credits his gap year for encouraging […]