Filling the Gap with International Experience

Originally Published by Lafayette University


Barker Carlock (United States | Senegal ’13) wanted to be a medical anthropologist and worked alongside a triage nurse in Senegal thanks to Global Citizen Year. The program finds opportunities for high school seniors who set aside seven and a half months after graduating to experience another culture, while still keeping their sights on college.


Carlock lived in Senegal in 2012-13 as a Global Citizen Year fellow and discovered his true calling there.



“I was captivated by that experience,” he says. “But I began to consider that in order to provide people with quality health care in a just society, you need running water and energy to create an infrastructure that supports a high quality of life and dignity for the individual.”


The chemical engineering graduate was elected to the organization’s board in July as a representative of the program alumni.


Based in Oakland, Calif., the nonprofit offers a gap year fellowship program that provides training, home stays, and apprenticeships worldwide. Each year it recruits and trains a diverse corps of high school graduates and supports them through an immersion in communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


Carlock enthusiastically describes the Global Citizen Year program as “the Peace Corps for high school grads” and now has a platform to encourage other college-bound students to consider a gap year.


“The experience helps young adults grow and find clarity and direction to academic ambitions before settling into the classroom,” he says.


He credits Global Citizen Year with shaking up his thinking on what discipline he would ultimately follow at Lafayette.


Prior to his board appointment, Carlock served as an alumni ambassador for Global Citizen Year, visiting high schools to recruit students for the program.



“There’s a reason why I stayed in touch with this organization, because it was so impactful for me,” he says. “When I heard about the opening on the board, I knew immediately that it was something I wanted to pursue.


More than 10 percent of the eligible 550 alumni applied to join the board.


“Barker was selected from a very talented group of alumni,” said David Omenn, vice president of development for Global Citizen Year. “Each one of our graduates is a proof point of the power of the experience at age 18 to build relationships with people who are very different than themselves. Barker is the embodiment of all of that.”


Omenn, who visited Lafayette’s Office of Admissions last year when the College announced a partnership with Global Citizen Year, says he’s seen how Carlock can engage others who may not know about the purpose or value of a gap year experience.


Carlock’s education and talent are making an impression in his field of study as well. Following a successful internship at Telsa Motors, he will return there to begin his career.


“The Marquis de Lafayette was, in many ways, a gap year student and the original global citizen from the Enlightenment,” Ommen said. “As Barker starts work at Tesla, we believe he will be on the front lines and champion this movement as well.”



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Global Citizen Year is moving forward as part of our new, larger brand: Tilting Futures. New name, same mission, expanded programs and impact.