How often during your college years did you wonder: How are these classes going to help me? What will do I with the information I’m learning? But, what if you had the chance to discover your “why” during a yearlong opportunity — before you kicked off your career? That’s exactly what Abby Falik has created with Global Citizen Year, a program that helps students stretch themselves during a gap year between high school graduation and college.

Abby is the founder of the organization, which also helps students learn about cultures and languages, and gain experiences and memories, while staying with host families in Brazil, Ecuador, India and Senegal, and work as apprentices in local organizations.

In our previous conversation with Abby (during 2018 and featured episode #82), Abby shared the roots of her passion and what made her determined to make the gap year part of every student’s college experience. In our latest conversation, Abby shares the story of the launch of Global Citizen Academy, a new program bringing together high school students worldwide for the opportunity to explore topics like effective communication, systems thinking and ethical decision-making. Global Citizen Academy is seizing this historic moment to help high school graduates find ways they can help their communities within an organization that has proven leadership training.

Abby was once the type of student she hopes to inspire. She was attending college at Stanford when she realized that she was longing for more than simply listening to professors in lecture halls. Abby took a break and spent a year in Brazil working and traveling. After coming back to Stanford after this life-changing journey, she noticed she gained confidence and maturity, which she credits with altering the course of her life. But before Abby realized her vision, she worked in a nonprofit — managing, building and creating ideas — and then attended Harvard to obtain an MBA that would help her create Global Citizen Year.

If you like today’s episode, we recommend you scroll back through our podcast archives to our conversation with Abby in episode #82.