Liza Wright-Fairbanks '17


Hometown: Westford, MA

Major: Biology

Minor: Environmental Studies

Gap Year Description

I planned my gap year around activities and places that I loved – sailing, scientific research, and the Caribbean. I spent the first three months of the year aboard a 112-foot sailboat with a program called SeaMester. We sailed around the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic Ocean, and ended up in the Caribbean, all while taking college-accredited courses in oceanography, marine biology, seamanship, and leadership. Sailing across an entire ocean was an incredible experience that truly solidified my love for the sea.

Next, I was off to the Bahamas, ready to begin a new adventure at the Cape Eleuthera Institute, a marine research facility located on a sustainable island campus. There, I studied how climate change could affect near-shore fish species and was able to explore the island by car and by kayak. Working at CEI was a great opportunity to see how marine research is conducted while immersing myself in a new culture.

I returned home from the Bahamas at the end of March, reinvigorated by 6 months of travel. I spent the rest of the spring babysitting and got an internship at a software company for the summer so that I could save up money for my next adventure, freshman year at Midd.

How did it influence your time at Middlebury?

Taking a gap year was the best decision of my life. I was burnt out at the end of high school and though going to college seemed like an exciting transition, I was not ready for more school. When I arrived at Middlebury after my gap year, I was reinvigorated and eager to begin college. I had a better sense of self than I did when I graduated high school and I was able to choose my classes, activities, and new friends accordingly. I came to Midd confident, driven, and motivated to apply what I had learned in the real world to life at my new home. 


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