How would you spend a year between high school graduation and your first year at MIT? Several members of the Class of 2018 took that gap year opportunity, and their adventures ranged from teaching in a Tanzanian village to working in a San Francisco startup on the verge of acquisition.
Clemmie Mitchell from Scotland taught English in a Tanzanian village school. “Deciding to take a gap year, after having been accepted to MIT, seemed like the perfect scenario for me,” she says. “While intellectual development is undoubtedly essential for a fulfilled existence, the idea of freedom and exploration has always thrilled me.”
Her first stop was living with a Tanzanian family, teaching English to children and teachers in an impoverished school district, and taking part in village life from communions to cooking. “The family, the school children, and the other characters in the village with whom I became friends showed me the essence of happiness,” she says. “It does not stem from things but rather from relationships.”
Students in Terrascope, one of MIT's learning communities for first-year students, spent their spring break in South Africa, getting a first-hand look at problems related to clean-water access there.
Every year, the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program recognizes a handful of professors who are exceptional undergraduate teachers, educational innovators, and mentors. The awardees this year are Jacopo Buongiorno, an associate professor of nuclear science and engineering; Tomás Lozano-Pérez, the School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Excellence in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; John Ochsendorf, Class of 1942 Professor of Architecture, with a joint appointment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Heather Anne Paxson, an associate professor of anthropology; and Kristala L. J. Prather, the Theodore T. Miller Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering.
Founded in 1992, the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program was created to honor the legacy of Margaret MacVicar, an MIT alumna and professor of physical science who served as the Institute’s first dean for undergraduate education, from 1985 to 1990. MacVicar is credited with numerous far-reaching educational initiatives, including the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Founded in 1969 — when MacVicar was just 26 and in her first year on the MIT faculty — the program has since been emulated worldwide.