years — some students defer for medical,
military or financial reasons; the admissions office doesn’t keep track of which
students choose to defer specifically to
take a gap year.)
Will Clayton’s gap
year was funded in
part by a Morehead-Cain Foundation
grant set up to help
gauge the effectiveness of gap years.
Peru, Chile and
appreciated decompression time from a
rigorous high school
‘My gap year
to education ...
and really made
me want that
back. It just
made me miss
the access to
other people who
were curious, and
Why we gap
Gap years are as individual as the students who take them — imagination and
out-of-the-box thinking is what can make
a gap year special.
R.J. Nemeyer, a junior from Florida,
traveled all over the world during his gap
year, and the tales of his adventures border
on hyperbolic. He backpacked through
Europe, completed a wilderness EMT
course in California, worked on a construction site in Florida, built homes for
Habitat for Humanity in Chile, hiked
through Patagonia, interned at an investment bank in Atlanta, volunteered as a
crew member on a sailboat and rode a
train around Spain.
“I just came up with a big list of things
that I was interested in doing,” Nemeyer
Before his gap year, Nemeyer said he
didn’t know what course of study he
might choose at UNC. He knew he liked
languages and sciences, and he thought he
might be interested in business or biology.
After the investment banking internship,
though, Nemeyer realized it wasn’t the
career for him.
“The internship was a really good
thing to have done,” he said. “I came here
to UNC and was like, who am I kidding?
I really don’t want to do business. Then I
took a bio class and I was like, I love this
Conor Farese’s gap year was similarly
zigzagged. He volunteered in Peru, then
interned with a ceramicist in Florida,
worked at a wire factory in Georgia,
completed a sailing course in Mexico,
helped rehabilitate wildlife in Australia,
and taught English and conducted science
projects in Tanzania and South Africa. He
said the gap year has had a major influence on his majors at UNC (
environmental studies and public policy) and his
extracurricular activities (Students for Students International and Carolina for Kib-era, both organizations geared toward
service in Africa).
“It made me more driven and more
aware of what I was interested in,” he said,