On Becoming Comfortable with my Faults After My Gap Year

Janelle Kranz, a 2014 Global Gap Year and Mount Saint Mary Academy alumna, and George Washington University student, discusses receiving an award, building a career in International Relations, and her plans for the rest of her time in college.

How do you feel being an honoree for the GW Student Employee of the Year award?

I have been so lucky to work for Thrive DC this year because Thrive is like a big family. Everyone helps each other out to the best of their ability, and the consequential environment of understanding and respect that is created reminds me of the TBB community. I am very honored to have been nominated as a candidate for GW Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year. I have a great boss, and I’m grateful that he believes in my abilities and trusts me to get tasks done. I knew I wanted a job that was more than simply a secretary, and my boss, Greg, let me transform my job into what I wanted it to look like. I’m so fortunate to have had this experience.

What is interning at Thrive DC all about, and what have been your proudest accomplishments?

Interning at Thrive has been an incredible experience. Although frustrating at times because it was a long commute, more time and effort than my other freshman friends’ jobs and a difficult (and even sad at times) environment to work in, I’m grateful for my time there. Of the many tasks I performed, the most important was to schedule and keep track of all individual and group volunteers. One of my proudest accomplishments was creating a large chalkboard calendar in the office to keep track of the week’s volunteer groups. No task ever felt too much, but I realized that when you put the little things together that every Thrive staff member does, you get Thrive DC — an amazing, supportive organization that positively affects countless people across the nation while creating and spreading change for homeless and low-income people throughout DC.

What was your biggest takeaway during your gap year?

I learned so much on my gap year. I feel like the most important thing I learned changes every day! If I had to choose, I think the one lesson that has been most important for me is that I discovered how to be completely comfortable with myself, including my faults. My life was constantly busy before TBB, and even though it was stressful, I liked it that way. My life still is super-busy, and I still like it; however, through my gap year experience, I came to the realization that I no longer have to hold myself to unattainable, perfect high standards because it only causes me stress, aggravation, and disappointment. Since then, I’ve learned to have patience and to understand myself and others. Of course, I learned about sustainable development and social change on my trip, but I think the most unique part of my gap year education was the personal growth that led me to a place in my life where I am excited and feel comfortable being uncomfortable with myself and society.

What factors inspired you to choose your major in International Affairs?

I’ve always been interested in traveling all over the world and my connection with others who speak different languages. Since studying the subject in my senior year of high school, I’ve become increasingly interested in economics and the role it plays in our society and in the world. TBB helped root my interest in economics in global development, and ever since then, I knew that global development was what I wanted to pursue. As a result of all of these experiences and many more, I’m double-majoring in Economics and International Affairs with a concentration in International Development and a minor in Spanish Language and Culture.

What are you excited about learning in the next three years in college or in other endeavors?

I’m excited to continue learning about the connection between economics and global development, especially because I am studying these topics in Washington, DC, where I have the biggest learning “playground” in the world. There are so many opportunities here, and I’m thrilled to continue to make connections that will lead me to great experiences in changing the way we, as a global society, come together to talk about and implement global change.

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