Gap Year Radio
Ep. 305 Marco Marsans on Service Learning, Refugee Resettlement and Private Equity

Ep. 305 Marco Marsans on Service Learning, Refugee Resettlement and Private Equity


Marco Marsans spent his gap year on four continents, expanding his understanding of himself as well as the mechanisms that make the global economy run. Marco learned that by understanding the functions of micro and macro economies, he can affect positive change in the world. In his captivating interview, Marco details how traveling in Asia, working with refugees in Costa Rica and interning at a private equity firm in Amsterdam informed his thinking on how to dismantle global inequities. 

Marco divided his gap year into trimesters :

  1. Youth International Asia (personal growth)
  2. Interning in Costa Rica with CIME, working with refugees and asylum seekers (using private capital and entrepreneurship for societal good)
  3. Interning in Europe with a private equity firm in Amsterdam
  4. He worked with Jane Sarouhan, gap year counselor, to formulate his gap year plans

How can you help refugees on your gap year?

  1. Visit Omprakash to find grassroots opportunities in migration and refugee services abroad.
  2. Find your local refugee resettlement office, where you can volunteer to help welcome New Americans and provide resettlement services and orientation.
  3. Search Idealist for opportunities with non-profits that provide services to refugees or New Americans.
  4. More mature volunteers who want to help in Europe can take at look at this google doc for info about working in Greece.
Ep. 304 Emma Hulme on Conserving the American West with American Conservation Experience

Ep. 304 Emma Hulme on Conserving the American West with American Conservation Experience



Joining us on the pod is Emma Hulme, who spent her post-college gap time with the American Conservation Experience (or ACE), a branch of Americorps that coordinates and trains volunteers to undertake practical environmental restoration projects in America’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

Emma tells us about how her three month stint with ACE turned into nearly a year of service in various parts of the west, and led her to her current adventures abroad and taking the leap to push outside of her comfort zone.


Interested in finding out more about ACE? Check out their video and read more about how to join a team on their website here.

EP. 303 Gap Years x College Admissions

EP. 303 Gap Years x College Admissions



Ever wonder what colleges think about the gap year option? This episode we are joined by Skyler Adams, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Northwestern University. Skyler tells about the gap year from the admissions perspective and how to think about a gap year as it relates to applying for college. We also discuss the ideal deferral plan, how deferring can impact financial aid and why a gap year won’t help get you into college.  


Show Notes:

Tips for thinking about planning your gap year while applying to college:  
  1. Create list of deferral-friendly schools (check school websites, the GYA list or ask admissions)
  2. Don’t boast about your gap year intentions during the application process.
  3. Best practice for gap year before college is to apply senior year and defer admission from your school of choice. Deferring = asking the college to save your spot for a year while you take an intentional gap year.
  4. Financial aid: some aid may defer, some you will have to reapply for.

How to defer admission:

  1. Every school has a unique policy, so call admissions for your future school and ask about it.
  2. Most schools will want you to put down a deposit and write a letter of deferment to explain why you want to take gap time and what you plan to do with it.
  3. Here is a guide to writing a deferral letter.
  4. If you want to gain college credit during your gap time, make sure that’s allowed. Some schools will let you gain a little while others will say, “no way.”
  5. Be ethical: if you plan to apply to new schools during your gap year, relinquish your admission commitment first.
  6. Stay in touch with your school during your gap time if that’s a requirement.  
Ep. 302 Dividing Up Your Gap Year with Mackenzie Burke

Ep. 302 Dividing Up Your Gap Year with Mackenzie Burke

Rainbow Mountain in Peru

This episode you are going to hear from Mackenzie Burke, a gap year alumni who participated in three distinct program during her gap time. She chats about the various passions and interests these three segments served for her, from the plains of East Africa, to researching life under the sea in Timor-Leste, to living on her own in Cusco Peru. Additionally she shares with us a bit more about the independence progression that she intentionally set up for herself during this year.

Scuba Diving in Timor-Leste

Show Notes:

The Three Sections of Mackenzie’s Gap Year

Public Health Project in Tanzania at Meserani Snake Bite Clinic
Ep. 301 Gap Year Entrepreneurs Kris, Anika and Cecilia

Ep. 301 Gap Year Entrepreneurs Kris, Anika and Cecilia



Welcome to Season Three of Gap Year Radio! We are excited to bring you a brand new season of exciting interviews. Our premiere episode features three entrepreneurs who launched successful social ventures as a result of their gap year experiences. You’ll hear from Kris Cody of PAKA Apparel, Anika Funk of Banana Backpacks and Cecilia Polanco of So Good Pupusas. Although these three stories are unique to each of their personal journeys, they share a common thread of their gap time influencing their worldviews, and eventually, their enterprising career paths. As Kris says,” Taking a gap year in of itself is an entrepreneurial act.” Note to listeners: Read the show notes for exclusive discount codes for PAKA and Banana Backpacks!

Show Notes:

Kris Cody of PAKA Apparel

What he did on his gap year: Workaway in Italy, Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary in Bolivia, backpacking through South America.

Rens Shoes made from recycled coffee beans

Read here for more on the PAKA brand ambassador program

PAKA’s new sweater drops October 1st! Use Coupon Code GAPYEAR for 20% off their online store. Thank you Kris!!!

Anika Funk of Banana Backpacks

What she did on her gap year: Backpacked though India, Nepal and Southeast Asia.

An organization she recommends you get to know: Friends International, Cambodia

Read about the Banana Backpacks social mission here.

Banana Backpacks has a new line out! Check out the Kiri pack in addition to their flagship Khmer line. Use Coupon Code GAPYEAR for a discount in the Banana Backpacks online store!

Cecilia Polanco of So Good Pupusas

What she did on her gap year: Secured a UNC Global Gap Fellowship and traveled to Europe (wwoofed and traveled in Italy) au paired in Australia and kayaked in Alaska with NOLS.

Her starting point for gap year planning: Love of pizza (which led her to Italy)

Read here about the great work of Pupusas for Education, which is now supporting undocumented students to take a gap year through a special grant, in additional to their traditional college scholarships.

Read more about the Travel Access Project, which co-sponsors the Pupusas for Education gap year grants.

Ep. 208 Gap Year Preparation with Professional Gap Year Counselors Jason, Marion and Susan

Ep. 208 Gap Year Preparation with Professional Gap Year Counselors Jason, Marion and Susan

How does one prepare for a transformative experience like a gap year? To close out our second season of Gap Year Radio, we invited three professional gap year counselors; Jason Sarouhan of the Center for Interim Programs, Marion Taylor of Taylor the Gap and Susan Staley of Free to Roam Adventures, to discuss what they think are the most important ways to prepare for a gap year. We’ll cover mental and physical preparation as well as tips for staying safe on your gap time.

Jason’s Advice: Set Intentions

As an ultra-marathoner, Jason knows what it means to mentally prepare for a big event. Jason recommends that all gap year students think critically about their intentions ahead of beginning their gap time. This means thinking deeply about what you want out of your gap year and reflecting on experiences as they are happening, as well as afterwards. Increasing mindfulness around your gap time will make it more meaningful.

How to do this? Journal, scrapbook, vlog or find ways to engage in reflective practice throughout their gap time. Assess and create new goals as needed.

Marion’s Advice: Five Safety Tips for Gap Time

  1. Register for STEP, the State Department’s system for communicating with US citizens abroad.
  2. Be mindful of your food and water consumption. She recommends getting a steripen!
  3. Read reviews for programs and workstays.
  4. Understand what kind of travel insurance you need. Make sure the coverage meets your needs for adventure sports! Mental health insurance is also available.
  5. Arrange for airport pickup when you arrive in a new place – when you are exhausted and disoriented this is the safest way to get to your lodging.

Marion also recommends planning for emergencies with your parents so you have a game plan if something unexpected happens. Grab a Vagaband bracelet, which will list your emergency information right on your wrist.

Susan’s Advice: Physically Preparing for Gap Time

Much of what we do in the months leading up to our travels can impact our time abroad. Susan recommends the following tips for getting ready in the months leading up to leaving home:

  1. Walk every day or otherwise stay active – gap time is often physically active (even if you don’t anticipate it ahead of time) and getting in shape will help you adjust to your lifestyle.
  2. Understand your process for self-care: yoga, journaling, listening to music etc. If you need to check out while with others, this will help you recharge.
  3. Make an appointment to get your vaccinations and travel meds.
  4. Pack light and follow your program’s packing list.

Susan’s Top Gear Recommendations:

Reusable water bottle

Portable charger

Bamboo cutlery

Thanks for an amazing second season of Gap Year Radio, listeners! We are always available online and at gapyearradio (at) to answer your gap year questions. Have a great summer!

Ep. 207 Jacqueline Contino on A Wildlife Focused Gap Year in South Africa

Ep. 207 Jacqueline Contino on A Wildlife Focused Gap Year in South Africa

Joining Margo on the pod is Jacqueline Contino, who spent a life-changing post-undergraduate gap year in South Africa through the program Oyster Worldwide. After studying a pre-veterinary track in college, she ended up participating in two separate programs in South Africa during her gap time, first studying wildlife veterinary medicine. It was during this first stint in the country where she discovered that maybe there was a different path calling to her, and she was able to return to the same place in South Africa to pursue her now dreams of becoming a park ranger.

Jacqueline traveled with Oyster Worldwide, which provides volunteer placements all over the world. They have a number of conservation and wildlife projects to choose from in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Out surveying wildlife on a Game Ranger course
Ep. 206 Planning Your Independent Gap Year

Ep. 206 Planning Your Independent Gap Year

Joining us in this episode is Sasha Landauer and Jiyoung Jeong and of Gapyearly, who start us off by telling us a bit more about their own independent gap years post high school before beginning their undergraduate education at Stanford University. They now co-direct the online gap year platform Gapyearly, which offers firsthand feedback of gap year experiences and free support for prospective gap parents as well as students who are considering gap time.

Jiyoung and Sasha are no strangers to adventure!

They have recently co-written a Gap Year Planning Guide in partnership with the Gap Year Association, with special editing and design assistance from Erin Aucar of Amigos, who also joins us on the episode to walk us through this incredible resource for future gappers out there.

Thanks for your help with the planning guide Erin!

Show Notes:

Sasha & Jiyoung:

GapYearly highlights independent experiences and offers informal mentoring by recent gap year students.

Most random experiences:

Sasha: Chestnut harvesting in Italy (chestnuts are spiky!!!)

Julia: Walking fat goats in New Zealand…

Walking goats…not a thing!


Nugget of wisdom: Start with your goals!

Ep. 205 Elisabeth Mulder on Gap at Glen Brook

Ep. 205 Elisabeth Mulder on Gap at Glen Brook


Elisabeth Mulder joins Margo on the pod to discuss her gap semester spent in New Hampshire with Gap at Glen Brook. This is a US based gap program with a mission rooted in the belief that “each of us must unleash our authentic identity, create interdependent capacities, and develop our wholeness to face the challenges of our time”.

From spending two days solo in the woods, to returning as a summer camp counselor at Glen Brook and now heading back this summer for her third stint of time, Elisabeth’s passion for her experience with Gap at Glen Brook is inspiring.

Ep. 204 Andre and Tiger on the City Year Experience

Ep. 204 Andre and Tiger on the City Year Experience

Andre Morgan and Tiger Mar share their experiences as City Year volunteers in New Orleans and Boston.

City Year is an 11-month-long Americorps volunteer program under the umbrella of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in national service. City Year operates in 29 cities nationwide and has an upcoming application deadline (April 19) for its 19/20 cohort of members!

City Year helps to close gaps in high-need schools by supporting students’ academic and social-emotional development while also providing schools with the additional capacity to enhance school culture and climate.

City Year Alumni Survey that shows the benefits of a service year.

Here are the City Year Eligibility Requirements:

In order to be eligible to serve as a City Year AmeriCorps member, you must meet these eligibility requirements at the start of service.

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 25 (by July 1, 2019)
  • Have a college degree, some college, high school diploma, or GED
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Unfortunately, applicants who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are not eligible to serve as AmeriCorps members at this time
  • Able to commit to completing 1700 hours of full-time service over 11 months.
  • Have served no more than three terms in an AmeriCorps state or national program
  • Because the safety of students is our first priority, every confirmed AmeriCorps member must undergo a criminal history check. In cases where a criminal offense appears, the circumstances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested in domestic service, check out these other great websites for more information:

Americorps NCCC

Service Year Alliance

Take Action!
Sign this letter to Congress and joining us in calling on Congress to increase funding for AmeriCorps and other national service programs. Embracing a service year is a step in the right direction toward offering more meaningful gap opportunities to our next generation of students.