How often have you wondered: Why am I doing this? Why do I want this? Why am I experiencing this?

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 for individuals during a gap year between high school graduation and college entrance with Global Citizen Year. She is the founder of the organization, which also helps students stretch themselves, learn about new cultures and languages, and also gain priceless experiences and memories. Students of Global Citizen Year stay with host families in Brazil, Ecuador, India and Senegal, and work as apprentices in local organizations.


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 the life that a traditional model of education provides. She wanted more out of her education that simply listening to professors in lecture halls. Taking action, Abby left traditional education behind 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 as an advantage that altered the course of her life. On this trip Abby had discovered her own “why” and her vision for her lifelong work was born.

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.

In today’s episode, we discuss the exciting trends in education and how our perceptions and expectations of higher education can (and should) change to create better accommodations for how we live. We also learn what inspires Abby’s work and why she hopes the model of taking a “bridge year” will soon become the norm for most students in the United States. Then again, maybe we should all consider a bridge year — whether we’re entering college or beginning year 15 of our careers.