Middlebury

Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa
Major: Architectural Studies

Gap Year Experience:

 

Senioritis hit me hard about halfway through my junior year of high school. By the time I was applying to colleges I could feel my motivation to do school work waning and the prospect of moving straight into four more years of homework was not all that appealing (I also knew I had to make that $50K count). Sometime in the spring of my senior year I came across the opportunity to work at a school in Mali, West Africa so I deferred and bought a ticket to Bamako. I trained and worked daily with teachers, came up with lesson plans, and helped teach math to 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. All in French. In the end, I realized that though I thought I was doing something for the students (and I like to think I made a tiny little difference), I really came away with more than I could ever have given back.

How it influenced your time at Middlebury:

 

My time in Mali made me contemplate fields I'd never even considered: international education development, African studies, medicine. By being exposed to an utterly different…everything, I became more curious (about the experiences of other students here), more willing to take risks (not just personally but also academically), and excited to learn deeply about issues that I have not only seen manifested but have come to care deeply about.

Above all I have learned that any problem complex enough to be worth tackling requires thinking broadly. A solution that comes from one discipline, one researcher, or one perspective has limited power. Real progress is only possible through collaboration, and Middlebury gives me the chance to practice that cooperation.