My Gap Year Helped Release Me From the Fear of Failure

Genevieve M. Hawkins Thinking Beyond Borders Alumna

Genevieve M. Hawkins, a 2010 Global Gap Year, Brown University, and Newton North High School alumna, discusses life after college, discovering a new talent, and how her gap year inspired her to get involved in college initiatives.

What do you do now that you’ve graduated from college?

Genevieve M. Hawkins Global Gap Year AlumnaIt has been an introspective journey, figuring out how to navigate the job world and find direction towards building a career of meaningful, inspiring, and impactful work. I currently work for The School for Ethics and Global Leadership, a semester school for high school juniors in Washington D.C. I am a residential advisor and calculus teacher and have gotten many opportunities to dive into the daily operations of a small, dynamic school implementing experiential-based pedagogy, much like TBB. It has been inspiring to work with high school students who are grappling with global, ethical issues and also asking tough questions about who they are as leaders and as their best selves. It has sparked much of the same reflection in myself.

Since your gap year, how often do you try to do something new?

I think my gap year experience helped release me from the fear of failure – I find myself less embarrassed to jump into unfamiliar situations and often seek new experiences to push me to grow and redefine my best self. Here’s a funny example – as one of the least fashionable people around, I ended up modeling for the student-led fashion show during college, hoping to represent shorter women in the show. It was definitely a new, unexpected experience, learning how to walk in heels with the spotlight on me. I would not say I discovered an untapped talent, but it was thrilling to defy expectations.

Genevieve Moss Hawkins Thinking Beyond Borders AlumnaWhat are you excited about doing now or in the future?

My current interests are in business as a tool for positive community impact and in social justice movements. Working in an education start-up has sparked my interest in business organization. How do you put together an effective, mission-driven system that will best and most sustainably achieve the goal of the operation? I am excited to explore the business/entrepreneurship/ innovation sector moving forward, and am considering business school in the future. In the meantime, I am also really excited to travel back to South America this summer! I have the itch.

How did your gap year shape your college experience?

Oh my goodness, where to begin? My gap year was incredibly formative in giving my college studies direction and motivation. I studied economics and public health, both inspired from the community development focus on TBB. More than the classroom experience, I think my time on TBB made me a more confident, curious human and propelled me to get actively involved in campus initiatives and engage with issues within the administration and the surrounding community. Living and learning with a small group of other students helped me find intentional, inspiring communities in college and taught me the importance of learning to work with people different from myself.

Who are your heroes?

My biggest heroes are my parents because they have lived their lives and raised four children with strong values and moral character. They have instilled in us a sense of priorities – particularly the importance of education – and have taught us the courage to speak up for what we believe is right and the importance of working hard to make change. As I move from place to place and try to find that impactful work, it is these values that stay constant and ground me as I work through the ups and downs and harder moments. I am forever grateful for their unwavering support and commitment to what they believe.

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