This spring, 14 fellows will be selected to go abroad in the fall, Smith said. After that, 21 fellows will be selected per year, for the next two years.
All incoming first-year students who are accepted through UNC’s early action phase are eligible to apply to GGYF. Interested students must complete a supplemental application. Semi-finalists are then selected to interview over Skype and finalists attend a weekend on campus and undergo an additional interview before being notified of decisions in April.
“We are really looking for students who are open minded and can grow and benefit from an experience like this,” Smith said.
Smith said these next three years will serve as a trial period as she and others on the GGYF team work out the logistics of the program with the new donation.
Because of the partnership with Global Citizen Year, students selected as Global Gap Year Fellows will have two tracks that they could pursue.
The first is a "self-design" gap year which allows students to spend six to nine months abroad completing a service-related experience of their choice with the guidance of GGYF staff and mentors. The second track is a community immersion with Global Citizen Year for students who prefer a more structured experience abroad in Ecuador, Brazil, Senegal or India for eight months. Both tracks are service-based.
Harrill said that for the 14 fellows to be selected in spring, the ultimate goal is that half will go on the "self-design" track and half will go on the Global Citizen Year program.
“(Global Citizen Year has) really helped us out a lot," Smith said. "We are heavily subsidizing the costs of that program for our students with their generous support. And our students will also have the opportunity to eventually get the whole cost covered depending on their financial need.”
The Campus Y will use 75 percent of the funds from the donation on stipends that cover the costs of the gap year for the fellows, Harris said. A smaller percentage of the donation will cover health insurance and vaccinations as well as program costs of the GGYF that occur on campus, including the finalist weekend and a two week pre-departure summer institute for the students.
In line with the program’s main goals, the GGYF team tries to recruit students who fall into one of five different demographics identified by the University as underrepresented in global opportunities. Those five categories include students from low socio-economic backgrounds, rural backgrounds, first-generation students, students of color and students with limited travel experience abroad.
The GGYF team partners withProject Uplift, Carolina College Advising Corps and other programs to elevate these students, Smith said.
Smith said students who go abroad as Global Gap Year Fellows gain skills like time management, flexibility and confidence that are useful when they return to campus.
Thomas Elliott, senior political science and contemporary European studies major, went on a gap year with GGYF to South Africa where he worked for a professor of social ecology from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to research the impact of HIV/AIDS on individuals from rural South Africa.
“It was beneficial in a million different ways,” Elliott said. “Academically, it definitely helped me focus on what I did and didn’t want to study at UNC. And as a person, more generally, getting this experience, being away from home and having to take care of myself in every instance are things that everybody eventually learns at university, but I feel very fortunate to have been able to learn those things even before I arrived on campus.”
Harrill said he is excited about the impact that a larger cohort of Global Gap Year Fellows will make on campus. And that's the goal, Harrill said, "to have a broader ripple effect on the culture of the University.”