What a Gap Year! Tal is one of the most endearing students that we’ve ever had in our program. Reluctant at first to apply to college, Tal decided to seek a Gap Year internship. Not only did he ace his internship interview, he was beloved by his workplace mentor, staff, students and was HIRED! Tal found his inspiration, was accepted to college, and now knows what his major and career will be…..
This is Tal’s Story
When we first meet with students, we listen very carefully. Sometimes “reading between the lines” allows us to discover a hidden spark of interest that has the potential for enormous personal growth. That was exactly what happened with Tal.
As a high school graduate with a fantastic personality, Tal was a self-starter, already gaining practical experience working in a restaurant and gas station. A serious athlete into fitness and mountain biking, he ran track and cross country.
As we spoke, I was surprised by Tal’s response to one question. “What was the best experience you had in high school?”
Unlike other students’ responses, Tal didn’t mention debate, winning a tournament or acing his SAT’s. He spoke about working with a younger student who had special needs, helping him with his speech, even taking him for ice cream and miniature golf. Tal’s unexpected response was touching and reminded us of a recent article about Inclusive Fitness, the first gym dedicated to providing an inclusive environment for neurodiverse athletes of all abilities, including those with autism and Downs Syndrome. The center was founded by Greg and Kristina Austin, loving parents to Lucas, who is autistic. They saw first-hand, how exercise helped Lucas become more focused, relaxed, confident, active and able to do physical things with more ease. Not only is Greg a sought after trainer, he holds a BA in Psychology, MBA and advanced studies in neuroscience, making him the perfect mentor for Tal, who took on many responsibilities at the center.
Greg’s impression of Tal
“Tal is absolutely fantastic! He jumps into anything and gets the job done. He’s always willing to try new things. He’s a pleasure to work with. Tal seems to have a natural talent for coaching and working with our unique and wonderful athletes. He’s starting to work toward his personal training certification and may explore getting certified to work with special needs athletes, as all of our coaches here are. We’re grateful that Tal is part of IF and love having him here. Thanks for connecting us!
After just a short time on his internship, Tal was officially hired as an employee. Loving his work there and inspired by the students and adults he worked with, Tal applied to college to continue on a professional path to work as an athletic trainer for neurodiverse people. Greg wrote a superb letter of recommendation, and Tal was accepted with a scholarship to Regis College. Ever the athlete, Tal plans to major in Exercise Science with a minor in Special Education. Not only will he run Cross Country and Track, he will be studying for his certification both as a Professional Trainer and Autism Fitness Instructor.
Not every student experiences a direct path to college. Career exposure can be an important step for personal growth as a student begins their college and career journey.