ARCC Blog

GAP ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: CAILEY NEWTON, TYLER ARMER & MAGGIE DUBUS

we have learned that travel is one of the best ways for young people to gain perspective, broaden their horizons, become more independent, and learn more about themselves

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.

Cailey Newton

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

I did the Asia Gap Semester in the fall of 2015–wow, how time flies!

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

I am currently in school at Emerson College in Boston, MA! Although I ultimately made the decision to attend a four-year university, I have had so many rich working experiences since taking my gap semester as well. I truly believe that I felt motivated–and continue to feel motivated–to pursue these experiences because I gained such a deep understanding of how important it was for me to shape my own learning journey.

My gap year affected my choice of major because it gave me clarity around what I wanted my college experience to look like. I knew that I wanted a small school, flexibility over my schedule, and to live in a city! My major was less of a priority, but I was confident that if I could fulfill those three general desires, I would be able to make the most out of my college experience.

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

Taking a gap year challenged me to let go of the idea of what a “traditional” educational path, or life path in general looks like, which has been truly liberating. When I first started to consider taking a gap year, there were so many voices telling me that I wouldn’t go back to school, or that I would feel like I was behind, or that college was different from high school and it would be better to just power through. The reality is that the time actually allowed me to explore how learning happens, for myself and for others. It pushed me to question the systems that exist in the United States that tell students their path should look a certain way, and diverting from it would be a mistake. It’s important to stay true to our own path and desires, and after taking a gap year I now see how truly impactful that takeaway has been.

Words of advice for future gappers?

Do it! There are so many things that can hold us back–our fears, other people’s opinions, the so-called “timeline” that many of us are told we need to follow–but at the end of the day, leaning into your decision to take a gap year will reward you in more ways than you can count and truly leave you feeling empowered! Do the research, ask all the questions, find the experience that is right for you and you will not be sorry.

Tyler Armer

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

East Africa Gap, Fall 2016 (aka “Gapfrica”)

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

Right now, I’m heading into my junior year at Missouri State University where I am studying Entertainment Management. My gap year had a massive impact on my choice of major in a lot of personal development ways. I had gone practically my whole life wanting to go into the performing arts, but after spending a semester doing something vastly different from anything I had experienced, my mind started to open to entirely new possibilities. With ARCC’s Capstone Project specifically, I got the chance to merge my life-long passions into new possibilities, and I think that’s what set my mind at ease to the idea that you shouldn’t follow what you’ve been dreaming about for ages; you should follow whatever you love in each developing, dynamic part of your life.

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

My hugest takeaway was that you need to have an understanding of what is happening in the rest of the world to really understand what’s happening in your own private bubble. The key here is “understanding” because sometimes knowledge does not equate to this. My semester with ARCC gave me a whole new understanding of things I already knew plenty about.

Also it solidified my undying love for the most beautiful creatures on this planet: giraffes.

Words of advice for future gappers?

Give your complete self to your program. Let yourself face some of the harshest realities. Release the tension that comes with new experiences. This is the only way to grasp what is happening in our world and learn to become a present and productive member of it.

Maggie Dubus

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

Asia Fall 2018, New Frontiers: Patagonia/Cuba Spring 2019

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

I will be starting at Santa Clara University in the fall! I am super excited and feel completely ready to attend school and will be studying bioengineering and Spanish. My second semester in Latin America compelled me to further my studies in the Spanish language. Being immersed in the liveliness and energy of Latin culture and learning directly from locals made Spanish a definite passion of mine.

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

My gap year taught me so much, not only about the places I visited but about myself. I learned the importance of learning through experience and how beneficial it can be. For me, this was the first time I was on my own, away from my family for a long period of time. Taking this year to travel and experience the world opened my world view in a way I never thought possible. I came to learn responsibility for myself, others, and the world around me. From rural villages in Cambodia and Cuba to pristine Thai beaches and breathtaking peaks in Patagonia, there are so many people to talk to and learn from it’s impossible to not get a new perspective. I was able to put my life and problems in perspective and am grateful every single day for the life I have. I now know that I must use my privilege to better the lives of those I met throughout my journies.

Words of advice for future gappers?

My words of advice for future gappers would be to approach everything with an open mind. Seek and bask in the discomfort (because there will be a lot of it!), those moments make for the best stories and memories when it’s all over. Make the time to talk with and get to know the people you meet along the way, they will teach you so much. Don’t worry about everyone starting college, you’re experiencing things most people never get to. It’s all worth it in the end. Most of all, take it all in as best you can. It’s over before you know it. Have a blast!

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ARCC Programs has offered programs for students for over 35 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.