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The Daily Tar Heel

Campus Y to offer gap year fellowships

Five students to be funded next year

	Conor Farese plays with Tupapa Maasai and his brother Papai, a family he got to know while working in Monduli Juu, Tanzania. While in Tanzania, Farese taught English and helped construct a school in the village. – Courtesy of Conor Farese

Conor Farese plays with Tupapa Maasai and his brother Papai, a family he got to know while working in Monduli Juu, Tanzania. While in Tanzania, Farese taught English and helped construct a school in the village. – Courtesy of Conor Farese

The UNC Campus Y’s newest initiative, the Global Gap Year Program, will allow students to expand their opportunities, both mentally and physically.

Next year, the program will award five fellowships for prospective students to defer their UNC education for a year, said Campus Y Director Richard Harrill.

The program, which was created last fall, will allow UNC students to go abroad the year before they enter college to work, travel, study and perform public service internationally. The program was created as a result of an anonymous gift of $1.5 million.

This is the first ever gap year program at UNC, Harrill said.

The fellowship will provide $7,500 per student and give preference to applicants of high financial need, but it will not be exclusively need-based, Harrill said, adding it will ideally expand to 10 grants in the future.

The fellowships will typically last for nine months, and students will have the opportunity to craft their gap year based on their own ideas.

When accepted into the University, students will be notified if they are eligible for the program, and will then have the opportunity to apply and be selected by a committee composed of admissions officers, Campus Y staff and students who have previously taken a gap year.

Eligibility standards are in the process of being determined by the committee, but the committee anticipates most applications will be offered to students who apply for the first deadline on Nov. 1.

Recent admissions surveys have indicated that incoming students have been taking advantage of gap year programs more than in the past. Since 2005, an average of 15 to 30 students per year have taken a gap year, Harrill said.

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Stephen Farmer, who will be involved in the selection process, said he thinks the program has the potential to change the lives of students — and add to the global perspective UNC has pursued.

“I think it is important, as it will recruit globally minded students to UNC,” Farmer said.

Harrill, who took a gap year before going to college, has been largely involved in the development of the program. He said he hopes the concept of a gap year will eventually progress to becoming more of a norm.

“The Global Gap Year Program will allow students to understand themselves, as well as a variety of international cultures,” he said. “The program is also vital in helping students form their Carolina identity.”

Senior Conor Farese, who took three months off to work in a Maasai tribe village in Tanzania, has been involved in constructing and advocating for the fellowship. He was responsible for identifying 90 students across campus who have taken gap years, in order to gather roughly 30 of them to sketch out an outline for the fellowship.

“My gap year was a really transformative experience for me. I was exposed to a lot of people, places and an entirely different aspect of society,” he said. “It was important to step out of my high school environment.”

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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