Discovering My Differences

Jacklyn Joy Byrd - Ecuador

July 5, 2011

For more than 10 generations, my family has lived in the state of Georgia. Why am I, an artistic 18-year-old from Atlanta, the first person in my family to venture out and experience the world? I believe that is the reason I am taking this gap year: to discover what makes me feel so different from my family. I love my family, but growing up gay in Georgia often puts me at odds with certain social, political, and religious ideas held by my home state. I also hope to show the world that I am a person, a fellow citizen, and that who I’m attracted to is only a small part of who I am and hope to be.

In December, amidst a frenzy of college applications and holiday performances at my performing arts high school, I saw an ad on Facebook that caught my eye. It featured the words ‘Global Citizen,” the subject of a scholarship essay I’d just completed. I clicked the link and emotion surged through my body. At that moment I knew I must take a Global Citizen Year.

Jacklyn Joy Byrd