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Cohort 2020-21

Los Altos, CA
Major: Undecided

Hi! My name is Hannah, and I’m from Northern California. I’m so excited to spend my year learning, exploring, and hopefully getting a better sense of what I want to study once I get to Duke. This summer, I’m doing an internship where I ‘m getting experience in product development and marketing. Then I plan to go on two semester gap programs through ARCC. The first one will be the Hawaii semester and the second the Pacific Islands. On both trips I’ll be working on various projects related to environmental, social, economic, and other issues in the local communities. Finally, I hope to spend time in Israel visiting family if possible. I can’t wait to share my experiences this year! Follow my blogs!


New York, NY
Major: Undecided

Hi everyone! I’m Lukas, and I’m from New York City. This year, I’ll be focusing on exploring my personal interests—music, film, and history—with much more freedom. As a violinist, I want to develop a more complete repertoire, and as a musician, I hope to explore harmonization through composition and arrangements of my own. With film and history, I hope to dive into film noir and neo-noir and understand its origins. I also will experiment with different filming techniques, sound design, and editing. I also plan to volunteer with Prep for Prep, a community based organization that has opened countless doors for me. I am excited for what the future holds! Follow my blogs!



Novato, CA
Major: Biochemistry w/ French

This summer, I’m taking an Adobe Illustrator class and tutoring in math. In the fall, I’ll continue to tutor and will also teach 5th grade students as part of a music program I founded. I’ll also take a photography class and a conversational class on French film, as well as work with a French tutor. Second semester, I’ll be dancing in a pre-professional program in San Francisco that includes classes in ballet, modern, and contemporary. I’ve done ballet since age 3 and am excited to try new genres! Finally, I hope to work in a neuroscience lab next summer, depending on whether the lab is fully operating. I’m very excited for the growth this year will bring and can’t wait to arrive at Duke in 2021! Follow my blogs!


Bethesda, MD
Major: Biology

During my gap year, I will be traveling to Israel to participate in the Hevruta gap-year program at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. The program brings together 30 North American and 30 Israeli students and focuses on building dialogue between students with different religious backgrounds. I’m excited to immerse myself in Israeli culture and hopefully improve my limited Hebrew. Through the Hevruta gap-year program, I will be taking courses in Judaic studies at the Shalom Hartman Institute while volunteering and interning in Jerusalem a few times a week. I am so grateful for Duke’s support and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you. Follow my blogs!



Palo Alto, CA
Major: Political Science

Hello! I will be forsaking the chaos of starting college in the middle of a global pandemic and taking a gap year instead. My year will be spent focusing on immersing myself in foreign languages, cultures, and environments. As I ride out my county’s shelter in place, I’m spending the summer volunteering for nearby organizations. Then, I’ll take my fall semester out to the canyons of Colorado and Utah for a 2 month long wilderness excursion with Outward Bound. Fingers crossed that international travel will be safe by winter/spring when I plan to finish off my gap year in Spain and France taking intensive language classes, exploring, and maybe volunteering! Follow my blogs!


New York, NY
Major: History or Political Science

Hi all! For my gap year, I will spend one semester interning as a Resident Assistant/Advisor for incoming freshmen at the Haile-Manas Academy, an Ethiopian boarding school opening fall of 2020. I then will spend the next 2.5 months backpacking, sea-kayaking, and sailing on and around the South Island of New Zealand with NOLS, an outdoor leadership program. I also plan on farming for room-and-board in Italy alongside my older sister. Through these activities, I hope to gain independence, empathy, perspective, and global awareness. I look forward to sharing my adventures with all of you! Follow my blogs!



Lexington, SC
Major: Environmental Science and Spanish

This fall, I plan on participating in volunteer programs either at Riverbanks Zoo, where I have been a Zooteen for the past three years, at Carolina Wildlife Center, a wildlife rescue facility, or at both. During the spring and summer, I plan on either continuing my work with wildlife conservation or studying abroad, depending on whether COVID-19 has been controlled to a certain extent by that point. I will also be using this time to work on some personal goals, such as language learning, getting my scuba certification, and catching up on my reading! Follow my blogs!



Piedmont, CA
Major: Neuroscience

Hi! My name is Amelia, and I’m from Piedmont, California (near San Francisco). My gap year plans include interning in a neuroscience research lab in Portland, Oregon during the fall; travelling through Australia, Vietnam, and Thailand for 5 weeks during the winter; and spending the spring on a semester-long Where There Be Dragons program in Morocco. I’m excited to push my boundaries, learn a new language (Moroccan Arabic), travel both independently and with a group of other gap year students, and return to Duke with lots of new experiences and memories to share! Follow my Blogs!



Atlanta, GA
Major: Undecided

My name is Christina, and I am super excited to be a part of the Duke Gap Year Program! With the uncertainty of next year, I am keeping my gap year plans flexible. I plan to intern for a political campaign in the fall, hopefully work as a ski instructor and volunteer in Utah in the winter, and travel to Spanish-speaking locations in the spring to hopefully reach fluency. I began working as a remote research assistant studying healthcare management this summer and plan to continue this work through the fall. I also hope to start a nonprofit that will integrate guest lecturers into Atlanta’s Title I elementary school curriculum to provide students with a diverse group of role models. Follow my blogs!


Irvine, CA
Major: Neuroscience, Dance

My name is Kayla, and I am from Southern California. During my gap year, I plan to attend a trainee program at a professional ballet company so I can grow as an artist. I will also volunteer in my community by teaching ballet and tutoring younger students in science. I am eager to study neuroscience and dance at Duke, and I hope that my gap year will enhance my understanding of both science and the arts and enable me to contribute to my community. I am excited to be a part of the Duke Gap Year Program! Follow my blogs!


Novato, CA
Major: Undecided

During my gap year, I’m hoping to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT starts on the California-Mexico border and ends on the Washington-Canada border. To prepare, I’m planning to complete shorter trips like the Tahoe Rim hike(a loop around Lake Tahoe). Before the trek, I hope to spend my time volunteering and learning about the trail. COVID permitting, my plan is to volunteer with the Parks Department. Otherwise, I hope to find different ways to be an engaged citizen in my local community. Follow my blogs!

New Delhi, India
Major: Economics

Hi! My name is Siddharth and I’m from New Delhi, India. Over the next year, I’m excited to further explore what I’m interested in pursuing at Duke. I plan to attend a 3-month gap year programme at Oxford, Washington, and Princeton, organized by the John Locke Institute. I will be interning with an ed-tech company focused on providing IQ development exercises for young students. I also look forward to spending a lot more time reading books, improving my proficiency at speaking French and learning how to play chess well. I will also be volunteering with an organization focused on promoting the rights of children. Follow my blogs!



Ann Arbor, MI
Major: Economics and Psychology

Hey everyone! My name is Maya and I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have been looking forward to taking a gap year for a number of years and although COVID-19 has forced me to change my plans a bit I am still very excited for this opportunity! I will begin my gap year volunteering on a variety of political campaigns, on a local and national scale. Then I will be in interning in Sydney and traveling around Australia and New Zealand. Second semester I plan to participate in a language immersion program in Buenos Aires, Argentina while teaching English at local schools. I look forward to growing in the next year and joining the Duke class of 2025! Follow my blogs!


Northbrook, IL
Major: Computer Science

I will be going to Israel on the Young Judea Year Course program for 2020-2021. The first half of the year is spent in Jerusalem, where I’ll be studying at the Institute for Young Leaders from Abroad. I’ll be taking Israel/Jewish-related classes with students from all around the world, as well as doing in-field learning. There is also a trip to Poland during the first semester. After the first semester in Jerusalem, I will be spending a month doing community service for an orphan community in Rwanda. Following that, I will spend the second semester in Tel Aviv, learning computer science at the Developers Institute and possibly working as a first-responder in an ambulance. Can’t wait! Follow my blogs!


Singapore, Singapore
Major: Biomedical Engineering, Pre-Med Track

When I am not working at a biotech startup to develop a wearable device for the continuous monitoring of infected/ at-risk populations during a pandemic, you’ll mostly find me designing and fabricating a piezoresistive tactile sensor in the biorobotics laboratory at the National University of Singapore. I will also be volunteering with organisations such as the Singapore Red Cross to respond to community healthcare emergencies and participate in overseas healthcare expeditions. The rest of my time will be spent performing for patients in hospital wards and acquainting myself with the under-appreciated art of sign language in the hope of sharing the joy of music with those hard of hearing. Follow my blogs!



Brooklyn, NY
Major: Engineering

I plan to start my gap year as a member of AmeriCorps, participating in a program called City Year. In the program, I will help teach, tutor and mentor young, at risk students. I will be stationed in Brooklyn, New York. For the second half of the year, my plans are less concrete. I plan to either travel, hike, or do both. During the summer of 2021, I will work at a summer camp for 2 months. Follow my blogs!




Berkeley, CA
Major: English

Hey everyone! In the fall, I’m going to Bhutan, where I’ll be studying environmental sustainability. During my two month semester abroad, I will be interning at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment and hiking along the Druk Path in the pristine Himalayas! In January, I’ll travel to Cairns, Australia, where I will be surveying marine life in the Great Barrier Reef. On this island forty miles from the Australian coastline, I’ll be snorkeling, rehabilitating sick turtles, and cleaning up trash within the reefs. For the final two months of my gap, I’ll be in South Africa as a Great White Shark Conservation volunteer. I’m so excited to start this year-long adventure! Follow my blogs!


New York, NY
Major: Undecided

Although I’ve been to Israel a few times, my visits have always been touristy; so, for my gap year, I wanted a more bona fide experience. I will participate in Mechinat Beit Yisrael, a program for Israeli teens deferring their army service — that also accepts a couple of international students. Beit Yisrael is based out of a Jerusalem urban kibbutz: a social model geared towards reviving struggling communities. I will spend my 10 months in Israel volunteering within the kibbutz community, taking elective classes, and traveling around the country. I know overcoming the language and cultural barriers will be challenging, but I can’t wait to strut around Israel and feel like I belong. Follow my blogs!



Austin, TX
Major: Biomedical or Mechanical Engineering

Hi! I’m Lizzy Jones from Austin, Texas. My gap year began this summer with an engineering internship at Enthought, a local company that works in scientific computing. In the fall, I’m hoping to explore Paris while taking French classes and living with a host family. After spending the holidays as an intern at Enthought, I will journey to Senegal, where I will explore Dakar with my host family and volunteer at a soccer camp. Then, I will visit Laos to teach aspiring monks to speak English. I will conclude my travels with a NOLS backpacking expedition in the Himalayas. I’m so excited to spend this year exploring the world before arriving at Duke in 2021! Follow my blogs!


Greenwich, CT
Major: Mechanical Engineering & Computer Science

Hi! My name is Shun and I’m from Greenwich, CT. I’m so excited to start my year and be part of the Duke GYP community! For most of the year, I will be in Tokyo working on an iPhone application with the Japanese Government. I will also be involved in a project to introduce the concept of “peer-learning” in Japan by designing programs for a residential college in Tokyo. Throughout the year, I’ll be volunteering at many camps to interact with the local community. Finally, near the end of my stay, I will take a trip around Japan, exploring my identity and immersing myself in Japanese culture. I can’t wait to pursue my passions, engage with the local community, and join Duke in the Fall of 2021! Follow my blogs!


Alexandria, VA
Major: Linguistics and Computer Science

Hi everyone! My name is Leah and I’m from Alexandria, VA. I’m excited to take a gap year to explore some of my interests and travel. This fall I will be traveling to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Everglades with Outward Bound. Starting in February, my plan is to first spend 3 months in South America trekking through the Andes, engaging in service projects, and learning Spanish with Where There Be Dragons. After that I will travel to Europe, where I will explore the cities of Vienna and Prague. I can’t wait to learn more about myself and the world, and I’m so glad that Duke has given me this opportunity! Follow my blogs!


Chevy Chase, MD
Major: Undecided

I’ll be spending most of my gap year in Israel on a program called Hevruta. While living in Jerusalem, I’ll work on my Hebrew, take classes on a variety of Jewish related topics, intern, and do community service work. Next summer, I also hope to travel to a few more countries and connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds. I can’t wait to bring what I learn to Duke in 2021! Follow my blogs!


Snowmass Village, CO
Major: Environmental Engineering

Due to the virus and the ever-changing restrictions, many of my plans are currently up in the air, but my goals are to travel and provide service to young scholars and athletes. No matter the circumstances during this next year I plan on earning my EMT license and volunteering with local first-responders, as well as helping in the Aspen School District as a math tutor. On the travel front, provided international travel becomes more of a viable option I would like to volunteer in Colombia teaching English at a local elementary school and growing my skills in Spanish. I also plan on participating in a NOLS course that would help grow my leadership and problem-solving skills. Follow my blogs!