Students decide to travel abroad, make a difference before attending college

Students decide to travel abroad, make a difference before attending college

Calli Haramaras, staff writer

While the majority of the graduating seniors are preparing for college by finding roommates, buying school supplies and furnishing their dorms, seniors Molly Markshtien and Erika Grad are preparing for something very different: a gap year program, miles away.

Markshtien and Grad are part of the small fraction of seniors who will not be attending college next year. Markshtien will be doing a gap year program in Israel, studying one semester at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the other semester living in a youth village doing community service.

“[I’m looking forward to] learning more about myself, finding the true me and making memories of a lifetime,” Markshtien said.

Like Markshtien, Grad is also taking a gap year. Part of a group called “Thinking Beyond Borders”, Grad will travel the world for eight months doing community service work.

According to Grad, amongst her community service will be teaching English at a rural school in China, providing in-home care for people suffering from HIV/AIDS in South Africa and helping with deforestation in Ecuador.

“I’m looking forward to spending eight months exploring the world and doing what I love,” Grad said. “I know that this trip will provide me with a greater understanding of the world and its many cultures.”

Although both Markshtien and Grad will be attending college in the fall of 2014, they decided to put it off for different reasons. Markshtien, who will be attending Eckerd College after her gap year, decided to jump at this rare opportunity and feels her experience at college won’t be any different.

“Opportunities like this don’t come up often,” Markshtien said.

Grad decided to defer her admission to Trinity College because she wanted to take a year off before committing to four more years of school, as well as to do service work abroad.

“I needed a break and I thought a gap year was the perfect fit for me, since I love traveling and helping people in need,” Grad said.

Despite the uniqueness of taking a gap year, both students felt their families were very supportive with their decisions.

According to Markshtien, taking a gap year had been something she had been interested in since eighth grade, which her family encouraged by helping out in any way possible.

For Grad, her parents were also very receptive to the idea of taking a year off for travel, understanding Grad’s passion to see the world. According to Grad, her parents always encouraged her independence and pushed her to pursue her individual interests.

With the excitement of looking forward to next year, Markshtien highly recommends taking a year off.

“If you want to do something that will benefit you and influence your life, then do it, run with it,” Markshtien said. “Taking a year before going to college […] will help you learn more about the real world and the people in it.”