Previous Fellows Profiles

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