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  • Writer's pictureAlmeera Eman

Meet Rhys!

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Rhys - 00:01

Hello everybody, my name is Rhys Fitzgerald and I am a Gap Year Ambassador with the Canadian Gap Year Association.

I took a structured gap year with the program called Discover Year from 2019 to 2020, right after I graduated from high school and I'm currently on my second gap year, when I return to school in September.

However, my story starts before that, so let me take you back in September of Grade 12. I have a learning challenge and unfortunately, because of that learning challenge, I was on the receiving end of some unpleasant nicknames like vegetable brain or wheelchair brain.

In grade 12, everyone was telling me all these things they were super passionate about, the issues they're going to solve when they become Prime Minister. The PHD's they're going to get, how they're going to solve cancer with what research they're going to do, and it really stressed me out because it seemed like everyone around me had their stuff together, but I had no idea what my passion was.

Rhys - 01:01

So I decided my passion was going to be psychology because I really enjoyed my introductory psych class in grade 11. Then I decided I wanted to be a firefighter, but realized I'm probably not good enough to be a firefighter. So then I switched to RCMP. Then I wanted to be trade person. Then I want it to be a social worker. Then I wanted to be a youth worker and then I went back to social worker. A couple weeks before acceptance letters rolled out. I went to my guidance office to see what my chances were of getting into the Secretary. I had applied to big schools and my mark in grade 11 English was a 66% and the minimum required was a 65%.

Rhys - 01:39

After the guidance office, I headed back to my class very distraught because the impression was that my marks wouldn't be good enough for me to get into school right away. On the way back to my class, one of my teachers I had in the previous years taught me and asked me what was wrong. I told her the situation and she said something really unexpected. She looked me in the eyes and said, what if you don't go to school next year?

This really took me off guard because up until then I was under the impression that I would be behind if I didn't go right to school and to be successful, I needed to go to school right away.

She begins to tell me how burnout she was at the university and that she wishes she took it happier.

Rhys - 02:24

And then she did her best to relate to a 17 year old boy and started talking about the finances, and started talking about the student debt she accumulated. Over time, teacher by teacher overheard our conversation and came to contribute to it. All these teachers that had a lot of respect for Gappers and were very successful were telling me that if they could go back they would have taken a Gap Year before going into post secondary.

After reading some articles and watching Ted talks, I figured if Harvard was encouraging their future students to take a gap year and a lot of professionals were telling me they wish they took a gap year. Could it really be the worst thing? As it turned out, some of the best things happened to me.

Rhys - 03:09

I surrounded myself with people who instead of putting me down for my learning challenge, helped me grow and improve. And instead of worrying about what I was passionate about or what I was going to do for the rest of my life, I found something I was interested in and pursued it.

I volunteered with the Red Cross as a personal disaster system. From there I gained a lot of unique perspectives and realized. How much opportunity there was with the self growth I achieved and the volunteering experience I had with the Red Cross, I realized that I did want to be a firefighter, but this time the realization was different.

In grade 12, I didn't think I was going to be good enough and it was sort of just a loss, but now I know that I will be able to make it happen.

If you like this story and why, don't hear more about the Gap Year journey that I had. Please let me know by liking and subscribing to the channel. Thank you very much for listening.

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