Going Beyond the Classroom

A self-described ‘Type A’ high school student in an International Baccalaureate program, Simone McFarlane’s gap year before college was not only a way to take a break from the academic grind, but an opportunity to partner with communities while exploring intellectual curiosities.

After hearing about the Global Gap Year Fellowship from mutual friends, McFarlane decided to apply. The fellowship funds global service opportunities for incoming Tar Heels and is supported by gifts to the Campus Y from Carolina parents Doug and Shawn Mackenzie, as well as anonymous donors.

In a highly selective admissions process, candidates apply for the fellowship then go through an interview process, resulting in the final cohort of fellows. Fellows defer admission to Carolina for one year and must spend at least six months of that year in service abroad.

McFarlane served in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, from September to December 2019, working on gender violence prevention programs at a health and education services nonprofit. In early 2020, McFarlane continued her global gap year and served as a teacher in Barranquilla, Colombia, a coastal Caribbean city. Between graphic design, grant writing and working directly with local communities, McFarlane served on a global scale and brought what she learned to Carolina.

“My gap year was the most exhilarating experience of my life,” McFarlane said. “Never before have I felt so close to myself. Living in new environments enhanced my self-awareness and humility, and these traits have invigorated my curiosity about this world.”

Read more about McFarlane’s experience and the Global Gap Year Fellowship…

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