Alum Frankie Gormley ’16 took a gap year and encourages others to do the same


Photo courtesy of Frankie Gormley

Frankie Gormley (bottom right) worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

For most outgoing seniors, the path after BSM is fairly uniform: they will attend college the year after graduating, and then proceed to their career of choice. Alum of ‘16 Frankie Gormley’s path has strayed far from this norm, resulting in an abundance of new opportunities and experiences.

Instead of going straight into college, Gormley decided to take a gap year. Recently, gap years have become increasingly popular, giving the students that take them the chance to explore a plethora of opportunities. Initially, Gormley feared that his gap year decision would hurt his work ethic, but his fellowship at a Wisconsin campaign site only served to bolster it.

This past election cycle, Gormley spent his time immersed in work for the Democratic Coordinated Campaign, more commonly known as the DCC, in Dane County, Wisconsin, which houses Madison and its surrounding suburbs. Gormley began his work as an intern at a field office, helping office organizers by doing a myriad of tasks such as entering data, training volunteers, organizing papers, and occasionally running the office.

Gormley quickly excelled after beginning his job in August. When a higher position as an organizer opened up, he was immediately assigned to it, even though he was technically not qualified (organizing jobs traditionally require a college degree). This advancement in his work did not come without obstacles. “I worked at least 13 hour days every day for 52 days. I think it’s the hardest I’ve ever worked,” Gormley said.

I encourage anybody to take a gap year… Do something radical, because this might be the only time you have the chance to do so.

— Frankie Gormley

Gormley’s work on the Democratic campaign allowed him many amazing opportunities to meet great politicians and to promote many different candidates. Although the outcome of the election was not what he had wanted, Gormley still sees his work as worthwhile. Dane County had the best Democratic turnout in its history. “It was a blowout, just not enough to turn Wisconsin blue,” Gormley said.

Although his time working on the campaign was the highlight of his fall, Gormley had many other jobs and experiences during his gap year. When back at home, he spent his time working at Nickelodeon Universe as a character performer (sometimes as a Christmas elf) and reconnected with his sister, who recently came home from the Peace Corps.

This past spring, Gormley participated in an 80+ day trip with the National Outdoor Leadership School. The group traveled from Arizona to Washington state by a grueling combination of walking, kayaking, and sailing.

It’s clear that Gormley’s gap year opportunities have far exceeded his own expectations, providing him with new knowledge and skills that he would not have been able to find if he had gone straight to college. “I can learn things that I want to learn, and better myself in an unconventional way. I encourage anybody to take a gap year… Do something radical, because this might be the only time you have the chance to do so,” Gormley said.

This fall, Gormley will attend the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where he plans to study liberal arts.