ARCC BLOG

GAP ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: BECCA SOLOT, DREW BEASLEY & NICOLE DHAR

When I was in high school, I never seriously considered taking any sort of gap. I began my freshman year, but didn’t feel passionate about my major. After my first semester I decided that I wanted to broaden my global understanding and challenge myself.

One of the biggest perks of working in the gap year field is the opportunity to get to know our students. These young adults are not only willing to buck the trends by stepping off the traditional educational treadmill for a semester or year to do something drastically different, but are doing so with an eagerness and earnestness to see the world, gain new perspectives, give back through hands-on service, form deep and intentional friendships, develop skills and hone their passions during their gap year. We’ve featured a few of these students below as there’s no better way to learn what the ARCC Gap Year experience is all about than to learn from those who have gone before.

Becca Solot

What ARCC Gap Semester(s) did you do and when?

I did the East Africa Gap Semester in the fall of 2017, and the New Frontiers (Patagonia/Cuba) Gap Semester in spring 2018.

Where are you currently in school or working? Did your gap year affect your choice of major?

I am currently a sophomore at Tufts University. Pre-gap, I was expected to get to college and possibly do math or something more along the STEM route… My gap year definitely affected my choice of major. While I am not entirely declared yet, I am much more centered around humanities classes, as I hope to continue to learn in a similar way that I learned on my gap year, learn about the world, and learn to think in new ways.

What’s the greatest takeaway/impact from your gap year?

The way my gap year impacted me most is that it helped me learn how to think from various perspectives and want to learn about people and their communities. Moving through these new places, while discussing critical issues and questioning accepted norms, was incredibly stimulating and helped me to realize that there is SO much to think about — so much history that builds into culture that intertwines with other histories over time that truly shapes a place and its people. I think that pre-gap, I was pretty narrow in my ways of thinking, as I was quite focused on math and science because it came more naturally to me. My gap year has helped me broaden my interests and understand that to learn anything — be it through studying math, religion, english, economics, etc — we need to first learn about people: about their values, their history, their norms, their reason for being. I think that understanding this has greatly shaped the way I approach college, in that now I hope to use my education to learn how to think in new ways, as my gap year taught me, and use those skills to pursue anything I might want in the future.

Words of advice for future gappers?

My main advice to a future gapper would be to be flexible and to be intentional. Frankly, not everything is going to go as planned. This offers a choice — you can let it inhibit your experience and sulk about the changes, or you can use it as an opportunity to become a better traveler and learn about or do something you might have otherwise not had the opportunity to do. Being flexible will offer a much more positive overall experience, as changes will occur, and embracing them as they come can help you make the most of it. Additionally, the form of experiential learning that a gap year or semester offers is unique, and you should take advantage of that: ask MANY questions, talk to locals, take the time you need to reflect, think critically, ask more questions :). Don’t waste this time being passive — take ownership of your semester or year so that when it’s all over it truly has transformed you for the better. 

Drew Beasley

What ARCC Gap Semester(s) did you do and when?

Pacific Islands Gap Semester, Winter/Spring 2019

Why did you decide to take a gap year?

When I was in high school, I never seriously considered taking any sort of gap. I began my freshman year of college at Chapman University in the fall of 2018, but I didn’t feel focused or passionate about my major. Once my first semester ended, I decided that I wanted to broaden my global understanding and challenge myself. I’ve always been interested in learning about other countries, and I wanted to find an experience that would allow me to learn about other cultures while being immersed in them. 

Where are you currently in school or working? Did your gap year affect your choice of major?

My gap semester provided me much needed clarity as to what I wanted my education to look like. I’m now a sophomore at DePaul University, pursuing a major in media studies and peace studies. Meeting with locals and working on community projects together furthered my interest in pursuing a degree that I could use to help people around the world. While traveling with ARCC, I worked on several film projects to share my experience. I hope to improve my film skills in college and continue to share the stories and cultures of places I visit.

What’s the greatest takeway/impact from your gap year?

I returned from my gap semester with a broader global perspective. Having seen such unique and seldom traveled to destinations, I’ve developed a better sense of how massive and complex the world is. However, my eyes are much more opened to the problems and challenges of our international world, including climate change, poverty, education, and hunger. Being aware and active in these issues has helped me to become a global citizen. Being exposed to the problems that people face has allowed me put my own challenges into perspective, and approach my daily life with a fresh point of view.

What did your instructors mean to you?

I immediately developed a close relationship with my instructors as I was fascinated by the extent of their travel. By spending so much time in the company of such worldly individuals, I was inspired to continue traveling in meaningful and impactful ways. During our travels, our instructors’ leadership held our group together through challenges and celebrations. Every day, our instructors went above and beyond by offering background information on the communities we volunteered in, acted as a shoulder to cry on when needed, prepared insightful team building activities, or surprised us with adventurous activities.

How was it to travel with a group of students?

I couldn’t imagine my gap experience without the companionship of my group. Being surrounded by other people who are sharing the challenges, joys, hardships, and adventures as you do is sure to enhance every moment.  I feel that most participants in any gap semester are open minded individuals who are seeking to create lifelong memories and find deeper purpose. Therefore, it’s inevitable that a group who meets for the first time as strangers will disembark as a family. Even after my gap semester, my group has stayed in touch and updated each other on news in our lives.

Nicole Dhar

What ARCC Gap Semester(s) did you do and when?

I got the opportunity to take a trip with ARCC across Southeast Asia in the fall of 2018,

Where are you currently in school or working? Did your gap year affect your choice of major?

I am currently in my freshman year at the University if Texas at Austin. Before taking my gap year I had applied to be an advertising major in the school of communications. This decision was quickly changed after I embarked on my three month journey throughout Asia. I got to dive deep into service on the trip and discovered my passion for mental health and education.

What’s the greatest takeaway/impact from your gap year?

My biggest takeaway from my entire gap year was to seize the moment, which I know sounds cheesy. There’s so much that can happen in a year, both good or bad, but either way take full advantage of it and soak it all in because there will never be a moment quite like it. 

Words of advice for future gappers?

Some words of advice for those thinking of taking a gap year… take a gap year!!! Take the chance to deviate from the norm and learn about the world, other people, and yourself along the way! 

——

ARCC Programs has offered programs for students for over 37 years. With international semester programs on five continents, there is something for everyone. Find a gap semester program on our website or request a catalog today.