GV alumna uses gap year for self-exploration


Courtesy / Jamie Wilson

Jamie Wilson, Staff Writer

Angela Balice graduated from Grand Valley State University in the spring of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science. 

Balice said her time at GVSU shaped her into the person she is today. 

“My classes, being on my own for the first time and forcing myself out of my shell were all challenges I was faced with in undergrad, but I learned and grew so much from that,” Balice said. 

While her initial goal was to attend medical school once she finished her time at GVSU, her journey took a turn when she realized she wanted to take a gap year to experience the world beyond the classroom. 

Since graduating, Balice has been using her time off to explore other hobbies. 

“Now that I’m out of school, I have time to pursue things beyond medicine that I’m interested in and good at,” Balice said. 

One pursuit has been her love and natural talent for cooking. 

Balice said she spends time learning from and cooking with her uncle, who’s famous in her family for his homemade recipes and barbecuing techniques. 

However, she hasn’t been spending all of her time in the kitchen. 

“My major wasn’t as focused on the human body as I wanted and initially expected,” Balice said. “It helped me see that chemistry was not a part of the field I could see myself being immersed in.”

Balice said she has explored the field of psychology, which combines her love for helping people and problem solving, with the knowledge she gained from her undergraduate degree. 

In addition to entertaining alternative interests, Balice has begun to travel. The first place she went was Los Angeles, California. 

“One of the reasons I chose to go to California was because I was interested in living there,” Balice said. “There were so many amazing things I had never done and was able to try, but I also really enjoyed the little things, like wandering the city and trying to imagine myself there or going to comedy clubs and new restaurants.”

Balice said favorite experience there was skydiving over Lake Elsinore in Southern California.

“Before jumping, the instructors didn’t explain what to do if something happened to them or the parachute, which forced me to completely release control,” Balice said. “Free falling was the moment in my life when I had the least amount of control, but it was also the moment in my life when I felt the freest.”

Shortly after returning from the west coast, Balice went to Texas where she got a taste of the south in saloons and cowboy dance halls. 

Balice said she advocates for taking a “gap year” in-between undergraduate and graduate school, and that it can be necessary for students to recharge their batteries and feel more secure in their future plans. 

“When I graduated, I finally gave myself permission to experience new things and not worry so much about what other people thought,” Balice said. “In exploring different careers and experiencing other parts of the country, I’m figuring out what I’m good at and what makes me happy.”