Frequently Asked Questions

What can Fellows expect to learn during the Gap Year Fellowship experience?

Fellows are challenged to learn through a range of interrelated experiences including active engagement with our community, service and leadership in a spectrum of programs for vulnerable adults and children, management and leadership responsibilities within a growing non-profit organization, and exposure to health and education systems. The year is intended to challenge Fellows in multiple ways to prepare them to help lead the rapidly evolving healthcare, education, and other service systems they will likely face.

Become immersed within a community

The small size of Greensboro (population approximately 3,000) provides an excellent opportunity for Fellows to see and begin to understand the relations of different people and processes in a community. Fellows are encouraged to visit with and get to know local civic leaders and other members of the community. They spend a half day per week in "Community Engagement" work with other civic, business, non-profit, and governmental organizations throughout our community. They are also welcomed to the community through their pairing with local “Adopt a Fellow Families.” During their time in Greensboro, Fellows should be able to begin to appreciate local values and the contributions of different members of the community. They should also begin to see and feel their own role, impact, and responsibilities in the context of a community.

Direct service and support to others

Fellows have the privilege of working closely with and providing support to vulnerable members of the community, and from their experiences, gaining a deeper appreciation for the value of humanity in service and the important psychological and social factors that contribute to health and quality of life among vulnerable people.

Gain management and leadership skills 

Fellows are given the opportunity to gain valuable experience by learning about and being involved in nearly all facets of the development, management, and leadership of a rapidly growing community based non-profit organization and its initiatives. The hope is to prepare Fellows for leadership roles in shaping tomorrow’s community based health, education, and service organizations and systems.

Learn about Health Care Systems Issues

 Through their experiences and through readings and discussions, Fellows are introduced to and challenged to analyze and assess the forces and processes acting within and upon health care systems. Readings and experiences give Fellows an introduction to:

  • Population and Public Health

  • Community Health and the biopsychosocial model

  • Healthcare law and ethics

  • Healthcare economics

  • Healthcare organizations

  • The structure and financing of health care systems

  • The history and evolution of the American healthcare system

  • Current thinking about and possible future directions of health policy

What have Fellows done after their gap year? 

Most past fellows have gone on to medical school after their time at Project Horseshoe Farm, with many of them attending their top-choice of schools. Others have pursued masters or graduate degrees in nursing, physician’s assistant, psychology, public health, law, public policy, or health administration. Several have gone on to positions in education or the non-profit sector. Over the last two years, more than 90% of Fellows have been accepted to their top choice of graduate or medical school or other job opportunity, and multiple past Fellows have been awarded full merit based scholarships to medical and graduate programs.

What is the selection process like?

The application deadline is February 10th, 2019 for the Fellowship class that will begin in June of the same year. After an initial review process of each application, qualified applicants will be contacted to schedule an initial interview with members of our selection committee. After these interviews, a final group of applicants will be invited to schedule a 30-minute interview with Dr. Dorsey. The selection committee will then discuss each application and notify each applicant (typically by mid to late March) whether s/he will be offered a position in the Fellowship class. If you are offered a position in the Fellowship class, to be fair to other applicants, you will have 2 days to decide whether to commit to the position.

Can international students apply?

If the student in question has a valid visa during the time that they would be a Fellow, they can apply; however, if the visa expires before or during t the Fellowship, the student is not eligible to apply.

Is there risk to Fellows of living on the same campus as elderly residents or residents with mental disabilities?

The safety of Fellows will be a high priority. Dr. Dorsey will be screening all prospective residents for our Housing Programs. Additionally, Fellows will be living together in a home separate from residents. If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Dorsey.

Will there be time to complete medical school/graduate school/job applications and to attend interviews?

We understand that during the Fellowship, most Fellows will be applying for medical school, graduate school, jobs, or other opportunities. Though the Fellowship is intensive, past Fellows have found time in the evenings and on weekends to complete applications, and we do provide time away for Fellows to attend interviews. Birmingham has a convenient airport that is approximately 1.5 hours by car from Greensboro, and it has reasonable connections to most major airports.

Do Fellows have vacation time?

Because community involvement and engagement is so central to the successful function of the organization and such an important part of Fellow’s educational experience, we believe it is very important that Fellows make a commitment to investing in and being present in the community as much as possible throughout the year. Fellows get 15 vacation days during the 13-month Fellowship, which are typically used for holidays, interviews, and the occasional long weekend or brief trip. Fellows work together as a team, and provide coverage for one another during time away.

Is Healthcare Insurance provided during the Fellowship?

Project Horseshoe Farm does not provide health insurance. If you are under 26, you may be able to stay on your parents’ health plan (please check with the plan). Alternatively, some Fellows have opted to purchase individual insurance through Blue Cross of Alabama (, which offers reasonably priced plans that start at approximately $100/month.

What will I need to bring?

You shouldn’t have to bring much, but because Hale County is a rural area without access to public transportation, Fellows will need to bring their own cars. Fellow housing is furnished. The kitchen has dishes, pots, pans, utensils, and basic appliances. Bedrooms have twin sized beds and mattresses, as well as storage space for clothes and other personal items. In addition to clothes, Fellows do need to bring their own sheets, blankets, comforters, and towels. You are welcome to bring small personal items such as rugs, pictures, lamps, etc. to make your room feel like home. Fellows have easy access to several washers and dryers. Feel free to contact current Fellows regarding any other specifics.

What clothes should I bring?

While working, Fellows should be neatly dressed in business casual attire. For us, this means jeans with no rips or tears, nice blouses, skirts and dresses, and button-down shirts. Shoes can be sandals, but no flip-flops. Summers in the South are generally very hot and humid. Winters tend to be relatively mild with average high temperatures in the 50’s. Winter temperatures can vary considerably though and daytime highs can drop below freezing on occasion with nighttime lows sometimes dipping into the 20’s.

Can I bring a pet?

We are animal lovers, but unfortunately because we already have multiple pet dogs at the Farm (several of whom can be jealous of other animals) and because we do not allow pets inside of Fellow housing, we cannot allow Fellows to bring additional pets.

What is Greensboro like?

Greensboro is a small rural southern town located in west central Alabama. The town has a deep, complex, and rich history that continues to shape community life today and Fellows are encouraged to invest in learning about life in the South, in Alabama, and in a rural community. Because of the limited access to shopping malls, movie theaters, and the like, community life tends to focus on other activities, and Fellows will have plenty of opportunities to get to know and engage with other members of the community. The town is home to many wonderful and interesting people and getting to know people is the only way to really discover the heart and soul of the community.

For many people, Church is a main center and an important part of community life and Churches and various other organizations in town host frequent gatherings and social events throughout the year. In addition, Greensboro is the “Catfish Capital” of Alabama, as catfish farming is the single biggest industry.

Furthermore, there are several other groups of young people in and around Greensboro that Fellows socialize with. The neighboring town of Newbern is the home of the internationally recognized Rural Studio Architecture program of Auburn University. Each year, the Rural Studio houses approximately 35 undergraduate and graduate students in or near Greensboro, and these students work on a wide range of design/build projects in the community. Greensboro is also home to HERO (Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization), a non-profit housing resource center that draws young adults to the community. Hale County and surrounding areas also host several local teachers through Teach for America. Finally, The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is 45 minutes away by car, and Tuscaloosa has all of the amenities of a medium-sized city.