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The mural created by Isabella Cerrutti, Natalia Gormley, Katie Marlow-Benedick, Zoe Morris, and Langley Pierpont signifies in part the road ahead. PHOTO/ Mary Kauffmann

The mural created by Isabella Cerrutti, Natalia Gormley, Katie Marlow-Benedick, Zoe Morris, and Langley Pierpont signifies in part the road ahead. PHOTO/ Mary Kauffmann

By Lauren Moran and Danielle Barenholtz

Henry David Thoreau penned, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” Twelve graduates will be stepping to the beat of their own drum next year as they embark on gap year adventures. These journeys will take them both near and far as they explore hobbies and passions.

Olivia Spaulding is seizing an opportunity that her parents wished they had.

“Neither of my parents took gap years … and say their one regret about college is not taking a gap year. Also, my sister is currently on her gap year right now and is really enjoying it,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding’s plans are still being shaped, but she said she hopes to go abroad as soon as possible.

“I will most likely go to Sweden in the fall and stay with our old family friends and work at the mom’s company in computer programming. After that, I haven’t planned anything yet,” Spaulding said.

Having unstructured time will be a significant change for Spaulding, who described herself as a hard working student.

“I was the kind of student who was a ‘try hard’ in middle school, so by the time senior year came I was so burnt out I could barely function… Taking a year off to explore a place outside of Weston without having to worry about a paper or assignment will be very very nice,” Spaulding said.

Though she said she will take some online classes, Spaulding said she hopes to have time for growth and reflection while unburdened by academic demands.

“After I was accepted into Brown, I questioned whether or not I should take a gap year because I just wanted to be at Brown as soon as possible,” Spaulding said. “However, I realized that though I know what I want to do, taking a break is very important for me mentally, to not be school stressed 24/7… I hope to gain more life experience and appreciation from my gap year.”

Catherine Argyrople is also marching to the beat of a different drum. She is going to spend her gap year completing a communications internship at the Island School in the Bahamas.

“I am a firm believer that the best way to learn about the world is through travel, and I cannot wait to become immersed in different cultures,” Argyrople said.

Traveling abroad is not new to  Argyrople as she  spent a portion of her sophomore year studying abroad at the Island School, and the people there inspired her to take a gap year.

“At The Island School, the faculty encouraged students to push their comfort zones and they promoted the idea of taking a year off from college to explore our interests. Once I started thinking about all of the incredible things I could do and achieve in a gap year, I just couldn’t get it out of my head.”

The internship will allow her to continue to travel the world, and she said she plans to live in Spain for two months to deepen her study of Spanish. Argyrople will participate in the Education First intensive language study.

She said she also hopes to head to Borneo (an island between Malaysia and Indonesia), where she will work with the local community on cultural and environmental projects.

“I’m looking at a six week program that helps teach students in local villages English, do sustainability projects with greenhouses [and] water management systems, help with construction projects, and work with an orangutan center on the island,” Argyrople said.

But her adventures will not stop there. Argyrople’s travels will continue into the summer when she plans to hone her photography skills.

“In the summer months I will be heading to Zimbabwe and South Africa to do wildlife photography and conservation projects at Victoria Falls and Kruger National Park,” said Argyrople.

Argyrople will be funding her gap year through the money she makes from her photography business. She said she hopes to someday become a movie producer for National Geographic.

“Although I consider myself an old soul, I believe that I will grow a lot during this year and learn a lot about myself – despite how cliché it sounds,” Argyrople said. “I think that this year will be a good transitioning period before I head off to college.

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The road less traveled