Previous Fellows Profiles

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

Justis Malker

Justis Malker recently completed his second year at UNC-Chapel Hill where he is studying History, Statistics, and African American studies. During his time at UNC thus far, Justis has been involved with UNC Cypher (a freestyle rap group), Student Hip Hop Organization (SHHO), Black Student Movement (BSM), and the Campus Y’s Cube 5.0 Cohort.

Justis’ passions lie in culture, art, sports, politics, and the interplay between these four areas of interest. He is particularly interested in and passionate about social justice and education inequalities. During his bridge year, Justice is working towards planting seeds both at his placement(s) and at UNC and expanding his personal horizons while experiencing and learning from different cultures. Justis is currently exploring service placement options with 826LA, Die Jim Crow, Prison Library Project, and Homeboy Industries for his bridge year with the ‘20-’21 cohort.

Halden Levin

Halden Levin, of Pinehurst, NC, recently graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Halden was involved in many different activities in high school, serving as cross country co-captain, a Chinese dancer, Neuroscience Teaching Assistant, and Bridge II Sports Volunteer Speech. She was also heavily involved as Debate Co-President and NCSSM Poets Society Co-Founder. She continues to stay active in supporting her older brother as a Bridge II Sports athlete and working as a Market Street Press Employee and Bergelson Lab research assistant.

Halden is passionate about Chinese language and culture, examining disability from psychological, neurological, and anthropological perspectives, as well as poetry and public speaking. She hopes to use her gap year to enrich these passions and interests of hers to pursue a career in pediatric neurology with a focus on children with neurodevelopmental disorders internationally.


Read Halden’s Blogs here:

Pre-Departure: Just Sitting

January into February: Floating, Flying

One Thousand Paper Cranes: […]