When she was an undergraduate at Stanford University, self-described “Berkeley girl” Abigail Falik discovered her true purpose by taking a step back from the academic grind and traveling and working in Brazil and Nicaragua. Almost two decades later, as the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, she is on a mission to give other students that same opportunity.
Since its first class of “fellows” completed the program in 2010, Global Citizen Year has placed 450 students (who pay on a sliding scale) with host families in Brazil, Ecuador, India, and Senegal. According to the organization, 91% of fellows who reapplied to college during this “bridge year” have been admitted to more selective or better-fitting schools. Falik, who earned an MBA at Harvard Business School and was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2014, is now focused on scaling her venture by partnering with universities; Tufts encourages admitted students to apply, and students at the New School get academic credit for the program. If she succeeds, the standard four-year college model could look remarkably different by the time her own children are ready to enroll.