The next year will be full of new experiences for Anastasia Novak. The 2014 salutatorian of Dickinson High School will be living in Ecuador with a host family, learning Spanish and gaining valuable life lessons to prepare her for college.

Novak’s plans for college changed suddenly the week before graduation when she learned she had been accepted as a Fellow in the Global Citizen Year program. With acceptance and scholarships in place to attend Middlebury College in Vermont, Novak had only two days to decide what to do.

“When will I ever get an opportunity like this again?” Novak asked.

“I know I will get a lot more out of college after having this experience with the Global Citizen Year.”

So, her decision was made, and she was able to defer her acceptance and financial aid to Middlebury College until the 2015-16 school year.

The Global Citizen Year started in 2009 as a pilot program of 11 fellows, which has now grown to nearly 200 program alumni. The program seeks to provide a “bridge year” after high school to prepare emerging leaders for success in college and careers.

The 90 fellows included in the Class of 2015 will be serving in Brazil, Senegal or Ecuador.

Novak was selected to travel to Ecuador. Her journey will begin Aug. 20 when she starts a weeklong training at Stanford University in California.

On Sept. 1, she will travel with the other Ecuador fellows to the country where they will work and travel together for a month as a group getting training in Spanish and learning about the country’s culture and politics.

At the end of the monthlong on-site training, Novak will be assigned to a host family and will receive an internship at a hospital, school or nonprofit organization.

The fellows are encouraged to get involved in the community and create a service project of their own.

The program will last until June 2015 when she will return to the United States and prepare for college at Middlebury.

Novak is responsible for raising $2,500 during the summer to support her Ecuador adventure. Those interested in donating can visit for information.

She also will spend the year blogging about her time in Ecuador. If you would like to follow her adventures, go to

Tammy Dowdy is director of communications for the Dickinson Independent School District.


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