Recent UAHS graduates share their gap year experiences
By Ellise Shafer, ‘17
After graduating last year, UAHS alumna Taylor Staub decided to take a gap year, hoping to work on an organic farm in Hawaii. Although her original plans did not work out, Staub was able to find happines through this process.
“This year, I moved to Hawaii Island and became a live-in nanny,” Staub said.
While nannying and working at a coffee shop, Staub said that she feels closer to herself as well as her environment.
“I do what makes me happy. Right now I’m teaching myself digital painting and how to read music via the guitar. I spend a lot of time in the ocean and in nature, which I’ve found to be my happy place,” Staub said. “I’ve never been more content with myself or my environment, nor have I been more inspired to challenge myself further and to grow. I take my life day by day and that’s the best plan I’ve had for myself ever.”
Although this year has changed her life, Staub does plan on attending school in Hawaii this fall.
“I do plan on going to school in the fall on this happy little island I now call home,” Staub said. “My gap year turned into the doorway to my entire life and being. For me, it wasn’t a one year break from the grind, it was a life changing move that will affect me forever.”
As for the most profound lesson Staub has learned from this experience, she has discovered that everyone is truly able to create a life that they love.
“You can be happy and you can define success on your own. Once that is true, pure happiness is inside of you and nothing can derail it,” Staub said. “If one thing’s for sure, it’s that no one is going to hold your hand and lead you to the golden gates of happiness. You have to listen to your truth.”
UAHS Class of 2015 alum Seth Chun took his gap year through the school that he will be attending this fall, Wheaton College. During his time in what is referred to as the Vanguard Gap Year Program, Chun lived and worked on a campsite, but also went on excursions such as backpacking through Pictured Rocks National Park and traveling to the Dominican Republic.
Much of Chun’s gap year experience was centered around helping others, which he got to do first hand in the Dominican Republic.
“We spent a lot of time studying the short term and long term impacts of developed countries and their outreaches to underdeveloped countries,” Chun said. “In doing so, I was quite surprised to see just how complicated of a process helping can be. If not done in a well, thought-out manner, [the process of helping] can actually hurt more than it helps.”
This is a lesson that Chun plans to apply to his desired area of study of business and economics.
“Taking a gap year helped me to become more confident in my plans for the future,” Chun said. “It gave me a clearer picture of where I want to go and really laid out for me what steps I should take to achieve those goals.”
In addition to refining what he wants to study, Chun also grew personally during his gap year.
“Vanguard showed me better ways to work and to become more efficient and thorough. In order to fully grasp these concepts, I had to let go of my old work ethic. Comparing myself from the beginning to the end of Vanguard, it’s been satisfying to see how I now approach problems and tasks head on and complete them thoroughly and efficiently,” Chun said. “Overall, I think that taking a gap year was the best decision I have ever made.”