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.

Kaitlin Galindo


Kaitlin Galindo, a bridge Fellow of Centreville, Virginia, is an Honors Carolina Student and an active member of the Campus Y. She is a public relations and political science double major. During her Bridge Year, Kaitlin volunteered in Greece and India.

Read Kaitlin’s blogs from abroad here:
Unfinished Work
On Borders

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, Daniel was a Summer Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis. Danny served in Dehradun, India and Rabat, Morocco during his gap year. Daniel’s gap year consisted of English education, skills training, and care giving through Ausskill, UBELONG, and Elite.

While at UNC, Danny is studying anthropology and global studies as well as pursuing an entrepreneurship minor. He is also an active member of MSA and the Hip Hop Council.


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

Georgia Morgan

Georgia Morgan of Cary, North Carolina spent her gap year in South Africa, Morocco, and Italy. While in South Africa, Georgia volunteered with Scalabrini, a refugee and migrant center, as an “all-rounder” intern teaching in the Engish school, helping develop the UNITE program for South African Youth, facilitating digital literacy courses, and helping clients apply for specific permits. After completing her placement in South Africa, Georgia traveled to Morocco to serve with Dar Si Hmad where she led excursions to visit fog nets, administered and facilitated a new session with RISE, and pursued her own independent project of interviewing/photographing the “behind the scenes heroes” of Dar Si Hmad.

At UNC, Georgia is studying Public Policy and Sustainable Planning/Development. She is an Advocate for CEF and Global Programs Assistant for Campus Y’s Global Office. She hopes to go abroad again and work in a career related to environmental justice and city […]

Katie Huge

Katie Huge of Carrboro, North Carolina graduated from Chapel Hill High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and played varsity volleyball, serving as captain for two years. She also taught volleyball to local youth and volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House.

She spent her gap year in Washington, D.C., Morocco, and Japan. Katie served with THRIVE, DC to support reentry for formerly  incarcerated females. She then travelled to Morocco, to develop curriculum with Dar Si Hmad through the RISE program and ended her gap year in Yufain, Japan WWOOFing with a donation cafe. Katie is an environmental science major and math and sustainability double minor. She is active in multiple campus organizations including the Asian American Student Association (ASA)and the club volleyball team. From her gap year, she more about her interests in careers and feels that she can forge her own path. She hopes […]

Jennings Dixon


Jennings Dixon of Apex, North Carolina is a Chinese major  at UNC. During his gap year, Jennings spent a majority of his time in India in Sri Lanka. In India, Jennings taught English at a local international school geared towards students of low socio-economic backgrounds. While in Sri Lanka, Jennings as able to express his passion for music through his service with the Music Project in which he taught music to Sri Lankan youth. Jennings  hopes to take advantage of global opportunities offered at UNC and is leading the Gap Year Student Org to connect with other students who have taken gap years. He is also involved in the marching band and Gaelic sports.


Jennings graduated from Holly Springs High School, where he was a member of the band and earned recognition as most outstanding freshman and sophomore musician and as a finalist for the NC All State Honor Band. […]

Natalie Barth

Natalie Barth of Wake Forest, North Carolina spent her gap year in Hucas, Costa Rica and Cape Town, South Africa. While in Costa Rica, Natalie worked at a day care teaching children. She then travelled to South Africa and interned at Green Pop- a social enterprise with a mission to (re)connect people with the planet- as a marketing and social media intern. Her gap year has influenced her interest in working abroad in a non-traditional career. While at UNC, she has dedicated her time to the premier, all-female a capalla group, the Loreleis, and is also a Buckley Public Service Scholar.

Natalie graduated from Franklin Academy High School, where she sang in the chorus and played varsity soccer. In addition to being a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National History Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society, Natalie also served as the vice president of […]

Araseli Valverde

Araseli Valverde, a Bridge Year Fellow from Pinnacle, NC,  is an active member of the Campus Y’s Bonner Leadership Program and is also involved with the Carolina Union Activities Board (CUAB). She is majoring in Global Studies with minors in Public Policy and Italian. Araseli spent most of her bridge year in Italy teaching English to migrant boys through the Intercultural Study Center, but was also able to go to Jordan, Tunisia, and London. Araseli also traveled through Mexico on behalf of the Gerald Unks Scholarship. Arasili credits her gap year to gaining confidence in her ability to travel and follow her passions. She hopes to continue traveling and explore more global opportunities through the Peace Corp and the Fullbright Scholarship!

Araseli plans to pursue a PhD through with McNair Scholars Program. She spent a summer presenting her research project, Post-Colonial Italy in Igiaba Scego’s Work, with the help of […]

Janis Arrojado

Janis Arrojado of Concord graduated from North Carolina School of Science and Math, where she was involved in numerous sustainability initiatives and ecology research and also danced Tinikling, a form of Filipino dance. She was the treasurer of her Interact Club and a finalist for MIT Inspire. During her gap year, Janis traveled to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador and Hanoi Vietnam. In Ecuador, Janis worked on a farm that specialized in revegetation. In Vietnam, Janis taught English through the Vietnamese Community Volunteering.

While at UNC, Janis is studying Geography and Public Policy. She is an active member on campus through her involvement with the Community Empowerment Fund, Project Literacy, and Kasam. Janis is also an Orientation Leader, Intern with the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, and a Residential Computing Consultant.

Janis is passionate about the future and trying her best to conserve throughout the world. She loves personality tests, coffee, […]

Viktoria Alston

Viktoria Alston of Havelock, North Carolina, spent her gap year in Peru, Ecuador, Belize, Mexico, Japan, and Malaysia. During her gap year, Viktoria taught Spanish, English, and math through Hija Rojo and Collegio Escriba, She is currently a global studies major with a Spanish minor and is involved with ENRICH ELL, a campus organization focused on promoting opportunities through English literacy. Viktoria hopes to have more global experiences and to be able to continue teaching English to language learners. Her gap year has also influenced her decision to find a career in which she is able to work with people and help improve their lives.

Viktoria graduated from Havelock High School, where she was involved with JROTC and 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.

You can read Viktoria’s blogs from abroad here:
Born […]

Shelby Watson

Shelby Watson of Collettsville graduated from West Caldwell High School, where she was co-president of Beta Club, a student council representative and played right field on the softball team. She has a passion for the outdoors and enjoys serving others, including a semester long internship at Tuttle Educational State Forest.

During her gap year, Shelby volunteered in Cape Town, South Africa and Mukono, Uganda. In South Africa, Shelby worked with Extreme Response International where she helped students with homework and other after-school care services. In Uganda, she worked with PUR International to create gardens and produce for the local school. Shelby is currently studying anthropology and has hopes of becoming a doula.

You can read her blogs from abroad here:
Why Do What Is Expected?
A Warm Welcome
Kindergarten Kindness
Let There Be Light

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.

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 of High […]

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 for art, was […]

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 Political […]

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 […]

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.

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 experiential learning. During her first year at UNC, Kristen took courses that led her out […]

Brady Gilliam


“In every place, no matter how far from home, I’ve made great friends, all of whom I already miss. I have learned something valuable from each of my students and colleagues, and I’m really, really grateful to have been able to share my journey.”

Brady engaged with social and environmental issues on four different continents during his gap year. He worked in Thailand, Madagascar, Spain, Peru, and Bolivia. Brady assisted doctors in rural clinics and taught English to monks. These opportunities deepened his understanding of the medical and educational fields.

Brady arrived at UNC as a first-year a year older than most of his peers, fresh out of high school. Brady felt different. He’d just been around the world.

He immersed himself in global academic interests with plans to double major in Comparative Literature and Anthropology, with a minor in History. During his first year at Carolina, he became an […]

Kalli Bunch

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Kalli Bunch, Class 2019, Nepal and Sri Lanka
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 traveled 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 […]

Rebecca Cooper

Rebecca Lynn Cooper of Rocky Point, NC, graduated from Heide Trask High School. Rebecca taught basic reading skills in Lithuania and did research on herbivore land preferences on a game reserve in South Africa. She had never left the country before her gap year, but she had the immense desire to travel and never imagined she would receive an opportunity like the Fellowship.  The chance to build her independence and confidence has been helpful as she starts her time at UNC.

Talpha Harris

Talpha Sebrena Harris of Wilmington, NC, graduated from Isaac Bear Early College. She believes in changing the world through entrepreneurship. She explored sustainability and social enterprise with cocoa farmers in Ecuador and then volunteered for the social entrepreneurship program of a rehabilitation center in Jamaica.

Following this experience, Talpha has started her own business called Nikao Technology where she partners with local communities in Jamaica to help businesses improve technology. Her venture won a UNC Bryan Fellowship, a program of the Carolina Center for Public Service that is designed for aspiring social change-makers, during her first semester at Carolina.

Talpha graduated from UNC with a major in Sustainable Development a minor in Entrepreneurship. During her time at UNC, she was a Shuford Ambassador and received the Ida Hayes Excellence Award.

Talpha is now a Business Accelerator Associate at Venture for America. She is also a patent-pending business owner for

Phun H

Phun H of Greensboro, NC, graduated from Walter Hines Page High School. During her gap year, Phun was able to reconnect with her roots in South East Asia where she travelled to Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. She taught English, learned to speak the local Indonesian dialect, and built close relationships with her students.

Parker Vige

Parker Owen Vige of Gonzales, Louisiana, graduated from East Ascension High School. On his gap year, Parker traveled to 56 different cities in 30 countries. He first taught English and computer literacy and worked as the financial director for the construction of an assembly hall in Uganda. Then he developed a national survey for an NGO in Hungary.

Parker is in his final year at UNC and is working towards a major in Global Studies with a concentration in Economics and French and an Entrepreneurship minor. He is a Tar Heel True and Buckley Public Service Scholar. Parker continued his global experiences with a year-long study abroad in Paris during his junior year and a semester-long program in London to complete the Shuford Entrepreneurship Program during his senior year. Parker is currently working as a psychoanalytic researcher and is looking to start a career in data strategy consulting. 

Logan Pratico

Logan Pratico of Chapel Hill, NC graduated from East Chapel Hill High School. During his gap year he volunteered in Bolivia and Ecuador. In Bolivia Logan coordinated international volunteers, fundraised for an orphanage, and worked with a medicinal plant healer to maintain the city’s botanical gardens. In Ecuador he collected data on sea turtles for the UNC Center for Galapagos Studies. He honed many types of skills and became fluent in Spanish. Now at Carolina he works on building collaboration between Campus Y, UNC’s Center for Social Justice, and other social justice oriented student groups on campus.

Quincy Godwin

Quincy Godwin of Ahoskie, NC graduated from Hertford County High School. During his gap year, Quincy taught music in Tanzania and joined the team of an environmental conservation startup in India. Now he is the first year executive officer of Nourish International, a UNC organization dedicated to eradicating poverty through collaboration with different communities worldwide. Unafraid to venture outside of his comfort zone, Quincy also joined the Carolina cheer team.

Leah Simon

Leah Simon of Chapel Hill graduated from Carrboro High School. Leah’s gap year took her to the Dominican Republic, Thailand, and Myanmar to teach English, India to work with Tibetan refugees and learn Reiki, and London and Israel to explore. During her first semester at UNC she has continued to volunteer her teaching skills with Campus Y committees like Enrich and HYPE, which tutor immigrants and children respectively.

During her time at UNC, Leah has been a part of Hillel Leadership, the Campus Y Steering Committee, Coalition of Awareness, Resilience and Solidarity, Electra Ultimate Frisbee Team, RCP Bridge Builders Program, and Outreach 360. Leah has continued expanding on her global experiences with the Advocates for Grassroots Development in Uganda internship, Onward Israel Summer Internship, GEF Summer Project in Thailand and Myanmar, and a Study Abroad Exchange at Boğaziçi University in the fall of her senior year.

Leah is a Global Studies major […]

Keely Kriho

Keely Kriho of LaGrange Park, IL graduated from UNC in 2019 with degrees in American Studies (with a concentration in American Indian and Indigenous Studies) and Health Policy and Management from the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

During her gap year, Keely shadowed a doctor in a children’s hospital in Cape Town, conducted research on burn wounds, and traveled with a mobile clinic run by South African medical students. She expanded her views on medicine beyond pure science which influenced her desire to study Public Health at Carolina.

“After my gap year abroad, I was inspired to focus on the U.S.! Particularly Native North America, specifically Native Nations in the United States, but took a couple of classes that had a wider focus on indigenous peoples in North American and globally. I also developed an interest in our health insurance and healthcare delivery systems, to compare and contrast with the […]

Gaby Aleman

Gaby Alemán of Charlotte, NC graduated from Providence High School. The focus of her gap year is working with children and she will be traveling to Sri Lanka and Indonesia. In Sri Lanka, Gaby will be working at an orphanage with the Rural Community Development Program. In Indonesia, she will be teaching English with Volunteer Programs Bali to underprivileged children first in an urban area called Ubud and then to a more secluded and rural part called Karangasem. Gaby hopes to learn Indonesian as well as the indigenous language of the Balinese.

Thomas Elliott

Thomas Elliott of Carrboro, NC graduated from Chapel Hill High School. Thomas will be traveling to South Africa where he will be working with the University of Witswatersrand’s SUNRAE (Sustaining Natural Resources in African Ecosystems) in Johannesburg. SUNRAE is a research program that focuses on the interactions between local communities and their environment. He will be working in the field to help conduct research for a professor. Thomas hopes his contact work with the people of the Limpopo region will grow his knowledge and interest in global sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity in the face of advancing globalization.