The track is simple: pre-school, elementary school, the dreaded middle school, high school and for many, off to college to earn a degree and eventually find a career. Especially for young adults in suburban New Jersey, college is the go to step after graduating high school. Many students never even question the cycle - Yet a few do. Governor Livingston High School senior Sydney Goldstein is one student embarking on a gap year following graduation.

The fall of 2019 for Goldstein’s peers will mean commencing their freshman year of college, with football games and cramming for exams in the library. For Goldstein, it looks a little different. “For the beginning of the year I am planning on getting an internship of some sort with special needs children,” Goldstein explained. Goldstein hopes to pursue a career in working with special needs children. An internship in this field will get her foot in the door for the future.

January of 2020 is when the real adventure begins for Goldstein! “I am leaving to go to Tanzania for three months and I am working for an orphanage there,” Goldstein exclaimed. Of course her love of helping children would influence her decision to work abroad.

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Goldstein will be working with the United Non-profit organization: Agape volunteers. Goldstein gave a run down of what her work in Tanzania will entail, “I have to be [at the orphanage] Monday thru Friday to be helping out. My “shift” would be from about eight in the morning to five at night but most volunteers stay much later than those hours.” Although Goldstein will be dedicating most of her time to the children, she did share her plans for any downtime she will have. “The weekends are mine to do whatever I want. I’m planning on taking a safari and I’m climbing Mount Kilimanjaro!” Goldstein is not an all-star climber but is grabbing her opportunities by the reins to explore the highest mountain in Africa. “I feel like if I’m there I have to do it. It’s the perfect opportunity!”

Goldstein’s choice to take a gap year is somewhat unconventional, so it was tricky for her to determine her plans for the upcoming year. “School has not always been my favorite thing,” Goldstein admitted. “I know I need to go to college to get a degree in something and support myself later in life, but every time I visited a school I couldn’t see myself there. I wasn’t as excited as everyone else was.” So Goldstein researched other paths and eventually landed on her journey to Tanzania. “I had to ease my dad into it. I kept sending him articles saying this was a common thing and more and more people are doing it.” It seems Goldstein’s coercing worked in her favor as she will be setting off for Tanzania next winter.

Attending college straight from high school is a good choice for many people, but it is important to realize that others have different callings. Goldstein’s choice to take a gap year may defy the social norm, but this sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity.