Student Spotlight: Brandon & the Princeton Bridge Year Program

While most high school graduates are spending the summer preparing for college or entering the workforce, Brandon Callegari is preparing for a trip to Senegal, West Africa.

Brandon, 2016 SYF Award of Excellence scholar from Deltona, Florida, was one of only 35 students nationwide selected to participate in Princeton’s Bridge Year Program.

Gap  year programs are often meant to give students a break from the traditional academic schedule; generally between the completion of high school and the start of college. During this time period, students usually participate in some sort of travel or volunteer work in order to better prepare themselves for the coming years.

Princeton selects a group of students to travel abroad in a cultural immersion program to perform community service projects in 5 different countries. This year, the program selected 35 students of the newly-admitted freshmen class to participate in Bolivia, Brazil, China, India and Senegal.

Brandon will spend 9 months in Senegal, West Africa, where he will live with a host family, take intensive language courses in both French and Wolof (the local language) and participate in community service daily. Brandon says he is looking forward to “[being] entirely immersed in a new and diverse culture that is nothing like the culture found in the United States.”

This program provides a unique experience for the students involved; offering a different perspective on life, learning and culture.

After his time in Senegal, Brandon will return to the United States to pursue a degree in Biology or Environmental Sciences at Princeton.

When asked what his goals for the future were, Brandon said, “I am open to any career. It is possible that I may find a new passion during my stay in Senegal… However, my ultimate goal is to positively impact as many lives as I can. I hope to leave the world better off than before I entered it.”

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