Meet Our Students

Follow along with these future Blue Devils as they explore, discover, serve and grow during their gap year. Read their blogs or follow @DukeGapYear on Instagram to keep up with their adventures!


Hometown: Palo Alto, CA
Intended Major: Global Cultural Studies or English

Hi everyone! My name is Makee and I’m from Northern California. I’m so excited to begin my year-long adventure, and so grateful to Duke for supporting me on the journey. Over the course of the year, you will find me in Paris, France; Austin, Texas; Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rome, Italy; and many more interesting places. I’ll begin my gap by exploring Paris as a student at the Sorbonne while living with a host family.  Next, I plan to volunteer at the U.S./Mexico border, serving as a translator for immigration lawyers. After that, I will travel to Buenos Aires to intern at a local newspaper. Finally, I will round off my year in Rome, interning for a modern art gallery and taking Italian language classes. I can’t wait to explore the world, refine my language skills, make new friends, and join the Duke community in 2020.



Hometown: Menlo Park, CA
Intended Major: Undecided


My name is Zak and I am from Menlo Park, California.  I have numerous interests ranging from mechanical engineering to music, to journalism and have not yet decided on a focus. My gap year will provide some clarity. In the fall I will attend the School of The New York Times where I will learn from a team of educators,  journalists and thought leaders from a wide range of disciplines, while living in New York. In the spring, I am considering traveling with ARCC on either their “Pacific Islands” or their “New Frontiers” trips. These programs will expose me to the world and prepare me for whatever comes next.



Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Intended Major: PPE/Economics
I plan on traveling to Argentina, Wales, England, France, India, Isreal, New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji. Some of these are by my self, some with family, Israel is with Birth Right Israel, and the last three countries are with Carpe Diem (a gap year service). I was inspired to take a gap year by the travel that I have done with my family and by my desire to learn via immersion and exposure. I am also looking forward to having more time to read and learn on my own during my gap year; I believe that I will appreciate cultivating my reading list rather than it being assigned to me as homework. Most of all, I am excited that I will be able to travel so much because of the support that Duke has provided.



Hometown: Cleveland, OH
Intended Major: Neuroscience/Psychology
I am spending three months hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, and canyoneering in The Rockies during the fall. I will be earning my Wilderness First Responder certification and am hoping to strengthen my skills as a leader during my time. I am also spending three months in India with a cultural immersion program. I will be learning Nepali, staying with host families, and trekking through The Himalayas.



Hometown: Frederick, MD
Intended Major: Dance
Hi! My name is Leah and I am one of the Duke Gap Year Participants! I am taking a gap year to experience personal and professional growth as a student, person, and a dancer. To do this I will be attending CityDance School and Conservatory and B.Funk Dance Company. Additionally, throughout the year I will travel to participate in various dance conventions and intensives which are held throughout the year. I am so excited to share my experience with you all!



Hometown: Woodland Hills, CA
Intended Major: Civil Engineering
For my gap year, I will be going to Granada, Spain for a language immersion program. I will be studying history and literature at the University of Granada and volunteering with various programs with other students in my group. I am going to be staying with a host family for the entirety of the year. I am very excited to get to know Spain and then come to Duke next year!


Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Intended Major: Global Health

Hiya all!

I’m Skijler, a native Californian hailing from Los Angeles. I’m ecstatic to take this next year off to explore and travel. In autumn I’ll be hiking the Le Puy and Camino De Santiago trails, following a medieval pilgrimage across France and Spain. Then I hope to work on some sheep and livestock farms through an organization called WWOOF in the UK, France, and Spain. Hopefully I’ll learn a thing or two about animal husbandry and textile production along the way. Once returned to Duke, I plan to major in Global Health, but I am undecided on the co-major.



Hometown: Armonk, NY
Intended Major: Mathematics

My name is Taddeo from Armonk, NY. At Duke, I plan to study a broad variety of classes, but plan to major in a subject in the STEM field, such as mathematics. During my gap year, I am attending two semester programs run by ARCC.  In the first semester I am spending 90 days in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. In these countries, I am going to be with a group of around 12 other gap year students, and completing various projects at different work sites throughout these three countries. Our projects will vary from environmental work to micro financing of a remote village. For my second semester I am going to Chile and Cuba, run by the same program. The time spent in Chile and Cuba will incorporate similar types of work to that in my first semester, but the main difference is that I will be doing a lot of this work in Spanish.



Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Intended Major: Biochemistry and History (Double Major)

To start off my gap year, I will be staying in Boise to intern with the Sierra Club-Idaho Chapter. My duties will include student and public outreach, as well as research. During this time-frame, I also plan to take Spanish language courses at a local language school and improve my Spanish skills in preparation for my time in Ecuador. I will also be training with a professional grant writer. My goal is to learn how to write grants in order to make Young Maestros, a camp I established for young musicians, more self-sufficient and able to provide more commodities to the students. In January 2019, I will go to Cuenca, Ecuador as a part of the Amigos de las Americas program. Here, I will take Spanish language immersion courses through the Amauta Spanish School and intern with a nonprofit agency focused on sustainability and biodiversity.


Hometown: Concord, MA
Intended Major: Chemistry with Education minor

I decided on a Gap Year to allow time for travel and exploration of what I am interested in studying at Duke. I intend to major in chemistry and minor in education. I have already started my gap year with the Greek Summer program at the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, Greece. This Fall I plan on traveling to Australia for seven weeks including two weeks of conservation work with Koalas and the Hairy-Nosed Wombats. During the winter, I will travel to Cape Town, South Africa, to learn about the care and rehabilitation of injured penguins. Finally, in the spring, I hope to go to Costa Rica to work on my photography and surfing skills as well as studying yoga.



Hometown: Gladstone, NJ
Intended Major: Biomedical Engineering

My name is McKenna and my hometown is Gladstone, New Jersey. I’ve been accepted into Duke University Pratt School of Engineering and my intended major is biomedical engineering. Thanks to Duke’s new Gap Year Program and funding I will be taking a gap year and join Duke’s class of 2024. As a part of my gap year agreement, I will be posting on here throughout my gap year!  I plan to spend my summer working and taking a public speaking class before I leave for @wheretherebedragons’s fall semester Nepal program. After the holidays, I plan to shadow doctors in the Dominican Republic, teach at an elementary school in South Africa, and then intern for engineering and computer science firms!



Hometown: Knoxville, TN
Intended Major(s): Computer Science, Art

I am taking my gap year with the Year On program and will be dividing my time between Indonesia, San Francisco, and another location I am still deciding. Over these next few months I’m super excited to participate in service learning, cultural immersion, entrepreneurial workshops, and experiences I can’t even anticipate yet! I look forward to sharing in the future.



Hometown: Sullivan’s Island, SC
Intended Major(s): International Studies w/ Arabic and French

Hello! My name is Eleanor, and I’m from a little place called Sullivan’s Island which is just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Instead of spending the 2019-2020 year at Duke, I’ll be in Senegal for eight months where I will be teaching English in French, living with a host family, and attempting to become fluent in French and Wolof. I decided to take a gap year because, like most seniors, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I enjoyed learning languages and arguing (thing Mock Trial or Debate Team), but my compass telling me my future was a little off-kilter. So, taking a chance, I decided to apply for a gap year! As of now, I am planning to be an International Studies major at Duke with a double minor in Arabic and French. But before I dive into college life, Senegal is my new home. I am incredibly excited– and a little nervous– to begin my journey in just a few weeks! On August 25th, I am flying cross-country to Stanford for a one-week intensive training before I head off to Senegal all alone. I’m excited to try the Attaya Tea (a daily ceremony in Senegal) and, hopefully, teach my compass how to point in a specific direction.


Hometown: Englewood, NJ
Intended Major: Political Science

In my gap year I will be attending a ten month program based out of Jerusalem, Israel. While in Israel, I will learn Hebrew, Arabic and Israeli Politics, and will also travel around Europe, Africa and the Middle East throughout the year.




Hometown: Lyme, NH
Intended Major: Undecided
I will be spending 7 months in Spain with the goal of becoming fluent in Spanish. In Spain I will be taking daily Spanish lessons as well as volunteer coaching U12 ice hockey for a club outside Madrid, S.A.D Majadahonda. I will also be traveling around Spain playing for Majadahonda in the Liga Nacional de Hockey Hielo.



Hometown: Houston, TX
Intended Major: 

I am Mackenzie, and I am super honored to be a part of the Duke Gap Year Program! I was born and raised in Houston, Texas—a big city known for great Tex-Mex, delicious seafood, and juicy steaks (which is right up my alley since I consider myself a hardcore foodie). My life-calling is to become a civil litigation lawyer; hence I intend to major in English at Duke, as pursuing that academic path will further enhance my skillset in reading, writing, and critical analysis. Furthermore, I plan on minoring in French because a long-term goal of mine is to be trilingual (I am already fluent in both English and Spanish). On a final note, I am very excited for the adventures of my gap year in which I will be interning at international law firms like Norton Rose Fulbright and Vinson & Elkins, providing administrative help for the political campaign of Councilmember Amanda Edwards, volunteering in the field of environmental conversation in Costa Rica from early January 2020 to mid-March 2020, and developing a self-founded non-profit organization called Mack’s School Prep that has the mission of engendering hope in and giving academic resources to low-income and disadvantaged students who feel that their current circumstances (whether that be familial or socio-economic) present a barrier to their dreams.



Hometown: New York City
Intended Major: 
Mechanical Engineering/Economics

My name is Amichai and I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York.  My hobbies include watching and playing both basketball and tennis, as well as cycling and playing chess. I am a brown belt in karate and have been practicing for about seven years. This coming year I will travel to Israel to be a part of the Hevruta program at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. I intend to take Jewish classes, become immersed in Israeli culture, become comfortable in speaking Hebrew, as well as volunteering and working within the heart of the city. Following my gap year, I see myself studying mechanical engineering and econometrics and Duke, as well as an advanced Hebrew class to further build on my foundation of the language.