Title Slide
Are you wondering about what’s the right pathway for your future?

Consider taking some time for you, while also having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate.

Three Carlow students
Ugandan boat ride
Take a break, go somewhere new
Serve in Uganda, be transformed
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A Gap Program to Discover Your Passion and Empower Global Communities

Through our 14-week program, you will get back in touch with what matters most for you, experiencing campus life and real-world service learning in Uganda, Africa. Not only will you gain new friends, strengthen your leadership, team-building and problem-solving skills, but this transformational opportunity may be just the break that will change the course of your life for the better.  

Quick facts

  • Experience campus living and a structured self-reflection learning program focused on reinvigorating your passions and your purpose in life 
  • Serve alongside your peers, through service-learning projects in the fields of education, healthcare, social justice and more  
  • Benefit from onsite counseling to help you discover and process your strengths, interests and skills throughout your experience
  • Minister to the needs of Ugandans, igniting your global perspective of the ways in which you can best serve yourself and the world around you
A woman holding a Ugandan child, both are smiling.
Doctor consulting her female patient. Patient and doctor sitting in office. Diagnostic, prevention of women diseases, healthcare, medical service, consultation or education, healthy lifestyle concept

Aug. 25-Dec. 10, Uganda: Oct. 10-Nov. 10

Group size:

15, ages 18-25
2 faculty mentors

College credits:

3; additional credits optional


Limited number available


Apply by May 31 and receive a $500 credit towards the program cost once accepted.

The Gap Program experience

On-campus discovery and preparation

You will begin your self-discovery living on Carlow University’s charming, urban campus in the heart of Pittsburgh’s exciting Oakland area. Each week focuses on a different topic related to global factors, social injustices and their affects to stretch your perspective and prepare you for your adventures abroad in Uganda, Africa. During these six weeks, you will serve and gain experience in the local Pittsburgh, PA region. 

  • Week 1: Getting to know yourself and your team 
  • Week 2: Think locally, act globally – diving into food security 
  • Week 3: Global agricultural practices and factors that influence food insecurity; women’s roles in the global arena 
  • Week 4: Malnutrition effects on brain development & maternal health 
  • Week 5: Entrepreneurship in developing countries 
  • Week 6: Global education practices 

Service learning in Uganda (30 days)

Next, you apply what you learned, sharpen your problem-solving skills and make positive contributions through service and volunteer opportunities at Ugandan schools and health care clinics.

One of your guides and mentors abroad will be Global Center Director, Susan O’Rourke. She has led study abroad programs for decades and is committed to helping you become immersed in the Ugandan culture with amazing moments and adventures. Alongside Susan will be a counselor available to students, both are trained in healthy relationships, stress management practices and study-abroad protocols.

Serve, Learn & Volunteer

  • Volunteer (provide tutoring and engage in fun learning activities) at Noah’s Ark School for Children with Disabilities in Entebbe
  • Participate in service projects (plant orchards and tend to school gardens) for Bright Kids Uganda on Lake Victoria Island
  • Serve (provide instruction and adapt learning materials for children with disabilities) at Silver Memorial Inclusive Community Learning Center (SMILE) in Opucet
  • Assist with vision assessments and distribution of donated eye glasses for seniors and school children
Two adults conduct an eye exam for a Ugandan woman. They are sitting pointing at a piece of white paper.
Three adults; one Ugandan and two women walk along a dirt road talking together.

Meet a New Culture

  • Hear inspiring life stories from locals, young and old; learn about their history including the effects of living as a British colony and subsequent years of conflict
  • Become familiar with local customs and their challenges
  • Interact with people living in remote villages without access to electricity, clean water, phones or computers
  • Prepare, taste and eat authentic Ugandan food 

Take amazing adventures

  • Visit the source of the Nile River and go white water rafting 
  • Take a hike to the tallest waterfall in eastern Africa, Sipi Falls 
  • Observe animals in their natural habitat on a three-day safari 
  • Visit Chimpanzee Island
Three women and one man stand on top of a rock flexing their muscles. A waterfall is behind them.
A Carlow student holds a Ugandan reptile in a field near a river.
Olivia Miller, ’21, biology major and runner on the track & field/cross country team.

An impactful experience

“I would go back and serve in Uganda in a heartbeat. I wish I had more time there. It had a huge impact on my life after returning and loved the opportunity to be able to have an impact on the lives of those there.”

– Kaylee Goblesky, Carlow University Nursing student

On-campus reflection and presentation

Once back in Pittsburgh, you and your teammates will examine and reflect on your experiences in Uganda — a key practice as you transition back into United States culture, prepare a presentation and share your story at our Sharing and Celebration event.

  • Week 13: Reflection on international experience, plan for sharing
  • Thanksgiving Break
  • Week 14: Sharing and Celebration event (includes exhibition of photos taken while in Uganda)

Benefits of a gap program

According to the most recent study data from the Gap Year Association, students who participated in a Gap Program experienced personal growth (reflection, development, maturity and self-confidence), developed understanding of the world and different cultures, and increased college and career readiness.

Earn credits towards a degree

By participating in this program, you will earn three (3) service-learning college credits. For an additional cost, you can choose to earn additional credits towards education requirements at Carlow University (options include a photography course).

Enrollment process & application

Apply today — participant spots are limited!


Apply by May 31 and receive $500

towards program cost once accepted

Program cost includes: $500 deposit; round-trip travel, three-credit service-learning course, housing, meals, service experiences and sightseeing tours in Uganda; housing, meal plan and transportation to service experiences in Pittsburgh, and room and board on the Carlow campus

Once you are accepted, you and your family will be sent a welcome email with the next steps. To hold your spot, a $500 deposit that is part of the total program cost will be required within 10 days of your acceptance email. The $500 deposit is non-refundable. If you are not accepted into the program, we will notify you via email.

A limited number of scholarships may be available for low income families — apply here for the program and to be considered for an income-eligible scholarship.

Program Director

Susan O'Rourke
Susan O’Rourke, Faculty, Education, Education & Liberal Studies, Thursday, September 2, 2021. (Rebecca Droke/Carlow University)

Susan O’Rourke, EdD
Global Center Director

Global Center Director, Susan O’Rourke has been working in Uganda for 10 years (since 2012). She has personally selected the comfortable and secure living facilities for the Uganda service-learning program and prearranged secure transportation through established partners in Uganda. Dr. O’Rourke has developed experiential learning and service projects through established partnerships and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Partners such as:

  • Noah’s Ark School for Children with Disabilities
  • Bright Kids Uganda
  • Silver Memorial Inclusive Community Learning Center (SMILE)

Contact Gap Program

If you are interested in the gap program, and have questions, email us or give us a call. We’re here to help!

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