Project Description

My gap year forced me to take a step back and understand how the world as a whole is impacted by the collection of communities that inhabit it. These bigger issues facing our world–the degradation of marine habitats, for example–are daunting and it is hard to realize that our smaller every day actions feed into these issues.

While on her Global Gap Year Fellowship, Carrie Hamilton worked as an environmental intern for an organization called Fundación Runa, in the Ecuadorian rainforest. She taught environmental lessons in the local community and did agricultural work on a jungle farm. This experience showed her that conducting research could be physically demanding, and it was deeply inspiring and increased her interest in environmental justice and sustainability.

The villagers’ lives and well being depend directly on the quality of their land. Carrying the memory of this close connection between people and nature to UNC, Carrie declared Environmental Science as her major. With the ethos of hard work and science cultivated in Ecuador, Carrie took an opportunity to conduct research at UNC’s Morehead City field site. (Endeavors Magazine made a video about Carrie, which can be seen here:

Research in the oyster reefs and labs made Carrie change her major to Marine Science. Now, as a winner of the prestigious Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Carrie thanks her Gap Year for giving her the courage to enter a daunting field.