Meet the Fellows

The inaugural class of Global Gap Year Fellows departed on their gap years in 2011. Since then, nine cohorts have engaged in creative, self-designed years of service abroad and formed a vibrant GGYF family at UNC.

Adamaris Delgado

Adamaris Delgado is from Charlotte, North Carolina and recently graduated from Mallard Creek High School. She is an aspiring nurse who is focused on sustainability. Adamaris has various hobbies: photography, watching movies, going out with friends, running, and going to the beach. While in high school she was involved in National Spanish Honor Society and HOSA. Adamaris obtained leadership positions while in high school such as President of the National Spanish Honor Society and Captain for her Varsity Volleyball team.

Adamaris is a recipient of many scholarships and awards some which include: UNC Wood Family Scholarship, SECU “People Helping People”, and has assured enrollment into the Environmental Science Program at UNC. While on her gap year, Adamaris hopes to volunteer in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and California.

Amanda Jesuca

Amanda B. Jesuca graduated from Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Florida, where she is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate, National Honor Society president, Key Club vice president, Rho Kappa Social Sciences National Honor Society vice president, and the varsity lacrosse captain. During her tenure as National Honor Society president, she expanded an initiative dedicated to collecting school supplies for low-income students and received more than 10,000 donations from students over the school year. She also participated in the Palm Beach County Regional Ethics Bowl, in which her team won first place.

As a Barb Schimdt Fellow, Amanda developed a passion for art and activism and plans on completing a mural in a low-income neighborhood in Palm Beach County with members in her cohort. In her spare time, she enjoys writing for her blog Audirius, volunteering, watching movies, and writing her original screenplay.

During her gap year, Amanda is interested in Education […]

Grace Herman

Grace Herman is from Chapel Hill, NC and attended Carrboro High School. During high school, she gained leadership positions such as Class Council President and Captain of the Lacrosse team. Grace has various hobbies, including theater, volunteering, field hockey, track, and lacrosse.

While on her gap year Grace hopes to volunteer in Puerto Rico, where she is hoping to gain experience with sustainability, disability rights and Spanish immersion.

Grace Macklin

Grace is from Chapel Hill, NC, and attended Carrboro High School. She gained leadership positions such as President of the Amnesty International chapter at CHS, captain of the swim team, and was a student intern for Nida Allam’s campaign for North Carolina’s 6th congressional district. Graduating from Carrboro, she was valedictorian and received the Global Diplomat award from the Academy of International Studies. Grace enjoys swimming, hiking, and being around animals.

On her gap year, Grace intends to volunteer at Casa Alitas in Tucson, Arizona. Alitas is a humanitarian aid program that offers shelter and assistance to migrants who have recently arrived in the United States. Later in her gap year, Grace is interested in exploring volunteer opportunities in Peru or in the Darién gap in Latin America.

Isaac Holmes

Isaac Holmes is from Spruce Pine, NC and attended Mitchell High School. He gained leadership positions such as Senior Class President, Captain of Varsity Soccer Team, and Vice President of Book Club. Issac graduated with awards such as AP Scholar with Honors and a Four-Year Academic Letter Scholar. He has an interest in photography, hiking, soccer, and creating writing.

While on his gap year Isaac hopes to volunteer at Acadia National Park in the Schoodic Education Adventure Program.

Lela French

Lela French is from Asheville, NC and attended TC Roberson High School. At TC,  she was Student Body Secretary, National Honor Society Executive Council, and Captain of both her Cross Country and Soccer team. Lela volunteered at Mission Hospital and is on the MAHEC Team HEald Careers Club. She is a recipient of various scholarships such as the Harry R. Morrill Scholarship, Rams Club Scholarship, and Rosa Lee Baldwin Scholarship.

Lela is passionate about health policy and conservation work. She hopes to volunteer in DC, Sacramento and Puerto Rico.

Lucy Miller

Lucy Miller, of Boone, NC, is a high school graduate of Watauga High School. During high school, Lucy was involved in many extracurriculars. She was the President of her school’s Model UN, while playing an active role in politics and activism. She was awarded her local Bar Association Scholarship as well as an award through her history department.

On her gap year, Lucy hopes to volunteer with the ACLU in San Francisco.

Maggie McNinch

Maggie McNinch is a 2022 graduate of First Flight High School on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. While at First Flight, Maggie excelled in academics, athletics and other extracurricular activities. Included among her honors are graduating as Co-Salutatorian of the FFHS Class of 2022, being named the 2022 Northeastern Coastal Conference Women’s Soccer Player of the Year, and serving as Vice President of the National Honor Society. While these recognitions mean a lot to Maggie, she is most proud of the Citizenship Award she received in Mrs. Davis’s 5th Grade class at Kitty Hawk Elementary School.

Her passion for writing found a home on the FFHS Nighthawk News staff where she discovered her calling for a career in journalism. She served as Co-Editor-in-Chief her senior year and was named a 2022 NC High School Journalist of the Year Alternate by the NC Scholastic Media Association. She will continue to […]

Amelia Laursen

Amelia Laursen is from Wilmington, NC and recently graduated from Isaac Bear Early College. While in high school, Amelia obtained leadership positions such as: Co-president of FCA and Treasurer for National Honor Society. She is a Varsity medalist in the Science Olympiad. Their interests include Girl Scouts, volunteering at a community garden, reading, and hiking. Amelia is also an illustrator of two published children books. While on her gap year, Mil hopes to be working on a horse farm in Puerto Rico, and traveling to Europe, Switzerland, Chile, and Uganda.

Sophie DuBois

Sophie Dubois is from Raleigh, NC. She is a Bridge Year Fellow hoping to explore and volunteer in San Francisco. Sophie is passionate about nature. Her interests include bee keeping and furthering her knowledge about plants and places that she frequents.

Sophie has leadership positions which include being a DJ/host at WXYC and being a Fellow at the Jackson Center.

Sophie Lowry

Sophie Lowry is from Durham, NC and graduated from Durham School of the Arts. She received the Hodding Carter II Public Service Fellowship for Summer 2022, which she was involved with working on a pilot project.

Sophie is a Bridge Year Fellow, having completed her first and sophomore year here at UNC. Sophie is passionate about Food Justice work, while on her gap year she hopes to volunteer in Puerto Rico and Texas.

John Swinea


John Swinea graduated from East Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, NC. While in high school, he was awarded Eagle Scout. He was also on the swim team, a cappella, and volunteered on his free time.

Read about John’s Gap Year!

Self-Reflection Before a Year of Transformation

Figuring Things Out

Learning My Role in Community


Sonia Rao


Sonia Rao, of Morrisville, NC, graduated from Green Hope High School. She is our Bridge Year Fellow for 2021-2022. She is majoring in Journalism. She is a Chuck Stone Scholar as well as a recipient of the M.S. Van Hecke award from UNC Hussman School of Media and Journalism. During the first two years at UNC-Chapel Hill, she has served as the City & State Editor of The Daily Tar Heel, interned for The Charlotte Observer, the Virginian Pilot and The Poynter Institute.

During her bridge year, Sonia is interested in going to Puerto Rico and Cape Town, South Africa.

Read about Sonia’s Bridge Year!


Solitude, Reflection

Ayanna Philips

Ayanna Philips, from Charlotte, NC, graduated from Merancas Middle College High School. During high school, she was involved in the National Honors Society, National Student Council, and Yearbook. She was awarded the Phillip O’ Berry Certification of Leadership, Merancas Scholar, and Merancas Outstanding Academic Excellence. Ayanna was also involved in Wake Forest University’s College LAUNCH For Leadership program.

During her gap year, she plans to visit Puerto Rico, Spain, and Italy.

Read about Ayanna’s Gap Year!

High School Graduation to A Gap Year, Different Right?

Ups and Downs

Experiences Worth Wild


Andrew McBride

Andrew McBride graduated from Cox Mill High School. He is from Concord, NC. During high school, Andrew was involved in DECA, BETA Club, and the Debate Club.


Read about Andrew’s Gap Year!

Uncertainty and Excitement in the Face of Departure


Emma Lovelace


Emma Lovelace is from Forest City, NC. She graduated from East Rutherford High School. During high school, Emma was involved in the Student Government Association, Younglife, National Honor Society, and she was a part of her yearbook staff. She also played varsity soccer. Emma was accepted into NC Governor’s School in 2020, won a ROPE Award,  a BAM Literature Scholarship, and earned the GEN(I)US Top Level SAT Recognition.

She is interested in going to Thailand, various European Countries, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C.

Read about Emma’s Gap Year!

All or Nothing!

Discovering Freedom Within and Around


Sitao Lin


Sitao Lin is a graduate of Mitchell High School from Spruce Pine, NC. During his time in high school, Sitao participated in theater, Key Club, Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America, and Future Health Professionals. At Mitchell, he was awarded a 4 Year Academic Award as well as National Honors Society. He is a Carolina Covenant Scholar.

During his gap year, Sitao is interested in going to different countries such as Thailand, Germany, and Spain where he will be working in Public Health Programs, food accessibility, and holistic medicine studies.

Read about Sitao’s Gap Year!

A Story Without A Protagonist

Unexpected but Just What I Needed

McCarty Hudson

Anna (McCarty) Hudson is a Research Triangle High School alumna from Raleigh, NC. Throughout high school, McCarty was involved in different organizations such as Student Council, Math Honors Society, executive board member of National Honors Society, president of National Art Honors Society, and the founding president of the Raptor Student-Athlete Council. She was also captain of the cross country, indoor and outdoor track team. In her free time, McCarty would also volunteer at Saving Grace and at Art Farm Camp as a camp counselor.

During her gap year, McCarty, is interested in going to Puerto Rico, Montana, Hawaii, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Thailand.

Read about McCarty’s Gap Year!

Finding Peace

Dear Boo, My Horse Hero

Hidden Tattoos

Amber Grant


Amber Grant graduated from Union Pines High School in Cameron, NC. She is from Salem, Massachusetts. During high school, Amber participated in National Honor Society, Project Uplift, Future Health Professionals, and the LEO Club.

During her gap year, Amber is interested in going to Hawaii and Vermont.

Read about Amber’s Gap Year here:

Mid-Year Reflection

Jessie Foday

Jessie Foday, of Durham, graduated from Durham School of the Arts. She participated in Key Club and National Honor Society. She also served as the co-editor of her school’s newspaper, and co-editor of DSA’s Literary Magazine, “Portraits in Ink”. Apart from this, Jessie also participated in sports. She was a varsity athlete in women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s cross country, and women’s soccer. She was awarded the Durham Public Schools Foundation Scholarship.

At UNC, she was been accepted into the Honors Carolina program, as well as Assured Enrollment in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and the Environmental Health Sciences program at Gillings School of Global Public Health.

During her gap year, Jessie is interested in going to Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Argentine, Honduras as well as the AmeriCorps program in the US. 

Read about Jess’s Gap Year!

Dear Future Me

Violet Child-Lanning


Violet Child-Lanning, of Chapel Hill, graduated from Emerson Waldorf School. She participated in Student Ambassador and the Queer Straight Alliance club. She was also on the volleyball and basketball team.

During her gap year, Violet is interested in going to Malawi.

Read about Violet’s Gap Year!

Overcoming My Peter Pan Syndrome Through A Gap Year

Nancy Alvarez Lopez


Nancy Alvarez Lopez, of Louisburg, graduated from Franklin County Early College High School. She participated in National Honor Society and was a freshman mentor. Nancy was also captain of the Bunn High School soccer team. At Carolina, she is a recipient of the Women’s Leadership Council Scholarship, and she is a Carolina Covenant Scholar.

During her gap year, Nancy is interested in going to Hawaii, Spain, Europe, and South Korea.

Read about Nancy’s Gap Year!

Life Begins at the End of My Comfort Zone


Val Orozco

Val Orozco is from Colombia but recently graduated from Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, NC. At Northwest, she was involved in sports such as field hockey, lacrosse, and track. Other activities she was involved in included 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. 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 […]

Tushar Varma

Tushar Varma completed his second year at UNC-Chapel Hill and intends to graduate in 2023 from the Hussman School of Journalism & Media with a degree in Advertising/Public Relations, and with minors in Anthropology and Studio Art. During the first half of his Carolina experience, Tushar was heavily engaged with the Carolina International Relations Association, a nonprofit organization with a focus on spreading educational opportunities regarding international politics and engagement to high-school and college students. Tushar has also been working closely with CUBE, a social entrepreneurship innovator housed in the Campus Y. In his free time, Tushar is usually painting or learning about a new creative platform.

Tushar is passionate about equality in youth education and wants to explore this while abroad. During his Bridge Year, Tushar plans on volunteering organizations that help him better understand the world outside of what he is comfortable with, rekindling interest in old hobbies, […]

Rose Houck

Rose Houck, of McLeansville, NC, recently graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. 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.

Rose is passionate about equality, environmental advocacy, and climate justice. 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. 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.

Read Rose’s Blogs here:

Pre-Departure: It’s All About Balance

Adventure is Out There…

McKenzie Roller

McKenzie Roller, from Avon, Connecticut, recently graduated from Miss Porter’s 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. McKenzie was also 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.

Read McKenzie’s Blogs here:

Pre-Departure: Popping the Bubble

Returning Back to Where It All Began

Kyra Koons

Kyra Koons, of Raleigh, NC, recently graduated from Enloe High School where she was very involved in her school’s soccer and tennis teams. She was also involved in the Spanish club, mock trial, and visual art. Kyra is very passionate about sports, visual art, and language learning.

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’ into a broader […]

Karsen Kennedy

Karsen Kennedy, of Fuquay-Varina, NC, recently graduated from Harnett Central High School. At Harnett Central, Karsen was a concertmaster for her school’s orchestra as a violinist and was involved with the Young Political Activist Club and Joyful Sound. Karsen has been independently studying Korean and Thai and is interested in continuing to learn ASL and Spanish.

Her desire to take a Gap Year “spurs from her longing to see people.” 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.

Read Karsen’s Blogs here:

Pre-Departure: Here’s to…

Looking Back