Alumni Spotlight: Tara Cherwony

Tara is from Cheltenham, Pennsylvania (suburb right outside of Philadelphia), and is 19 years old. She graduated from Cheltenham High School in June 2012 and is looking forward to attending Kutztown University beginning the fall of 2013. She enjoys dancing, photography, hanging out with friends, cooking, and being outside. She would like to be a fundraising event planner for non- profit organizations when she graduates, but for now, she is a part-time nanny and planning her next big adventure (hopefully, Morocco)!

Carpe Diem Australia student kayaking

Why did you decide to study abroad with Carpe Diem?

Tara: I decided to study abroad with Carpe Diem for several reasons. I knew as soon as I decided I was going to take a “gap year”, or semester in my case, that I only wanted to be away for half the year (or a semester) and wanted to be able to earn some college credit. Carpe Diem had just that! I also loved how they incorporated two of my favorite things; children and volunteering, but also had activities I wanted to explore such as hiking. My neighbor had also done the Latitude program through Carpe the year before, so having him and his parents to talk to was very useful, and also put my parents at ease.

What made this experience unique and special?

Tara: This experience has impacted me so much! I definitely have caught the travel bug, and want to travel all over. My interest in traveling after doing this program has helped me choose to major in Marketing and International Studies. I am a huge advocate for not only Carpe Diem, but also gap year programs as a whole. Having the opportunity to be involved as a Naturally Nomadic Ambassador through Carpe Diem and answering questions like these to help others, helps me use my marketing skills. I was always the girl with the ten year plan, but after choosing this route instead of going straight to college, has definitely opened my eyes, and now I’m a “one day at a time” kind of girl!

Carpe Diem Australia student with locals

What did Carpe Diem do for you and what did you need to do on your own?

Tara: I was not expecting this happen, but the first couple of weeks on my trip, I had a hard time fitting in socially. Carpe Diem helped me open up and gave me several people I felt comfortable talking to. It also challenged me to open up and go above and beyond what I was used to. I can now say that even though it took a little time, I bonded with every single participant on my trip, along with my too instructors, and am happy to call them my life-long friends. This experience will help me in the future without a doubt, and knowing that I can overcome that type of situation makes me excited to do programs likes these, along with getting involved on my college campus.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to future Carpe Diem - Australia students?

Tara: One piece of advice I would give future Carpe Diem Australia students is to be open minded. The three months abroad encompasses so much, and will be sure to fit everyone’s interest. However, because the trip has so many components, you will not necessarily be interested in all of it. Honestly, I was not into hiking or the outdoors much before this trip, but now I am planning camping trips with friends and love to hike! Also, be supportive of everyone- there were many times I would have struggled if my group did not have my back. We were always there for each other and motivated one another to push our comfort zones.