Daniel’s dream was to attend the University of Florida. “Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a Gator,” he said, “and I even knew what he wanted to study: Literature and Political Science.”
Daniel says that his relationship with Christ was all in his head during high school. He knew about Jesus, but he had never established a relationship with Him. “My father told me about Impact 360 Institute Gap Year when I was a Sophomore, but I didn’t want to hear anything about it. I already knew what I was doing after high school.”
But then the unthinkable happened. Daniel wasn’t accepted to UF. “There was no understandable reason why I didn’t get in. I had the grades… It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Daniel was devastated. He had no idea what he was going to do. The rest of his life was unclear, and his plans for “what’s next” were all ruined. But then his dad quietly reminded him about Impact 360 Gap Year, and he agreed to visit a Preview Day.
“I was more than happy to take a couple of days off of school to visit Georgia. I had no intention of actually attending. I just wanted to go on a road trip.”
Upon arrival to campus, the Poeana’s were greeted by several staff and students. “I knew almost immediately that this place was special. The first few people we met were so awesome… and then we met more and more and finally realized that everybody there was simply awesome,” he said.
That night, when Daniel and his father got back into their car to drive home, his heart had completely changed. “They all seemed to have something that I didn’t. Something I longed for, but never knew it until that day.”
For the first time in a very long time, Daniel wasn’t thinking about college. He had his mind on something different. Something new.
Once he enrolled, Daniel began to feel loved and accepted – not for who he was or who his father was… or even for the grades he made or friends he kept. He was appreciated for who he really was, and that’s what was most significant for him.
“The love that I received at Impact 360 Gap Year was a direct reflection of the Father. I didn’t do anything to earn it; it was simply given to me because of who I am in Christ. My experience absolutely broke me,” he said. “My false image of myself was completely shattered, and I began to see things about myself that I never knew were there.”
Even his goals for the future changed. Daniel is now a sophomore at King’s College in New York, and is a self-described “city slicker” these days. “I’ll always be a Gator at heart, but I am genuinely in love with the city. God brought me here and has opened my eyes to so much!”
Daniel now teaches a Sunday school class in the city for 4-5 year olds, and has been serving with others to to help eliminate abortion in New York. Daniel is also a part of The House of Winston Churchill, a fraternity at King’s College who “strive to be virtuous statesmen dedicated to serving God and others.”
Just like his experience at Impact 360, God is using Daniel’s surroundings to shape him and mold him into the man he was created to be. “I would have never studied Philosophy and Economics at UF, but now those are critical courses that are going to shape my future.”
Daniel says that the most significant thing about Impact 360 Gap Year for him was getting to know and engage with other students who challenged him to know what he believes and why, and then to live out that faith no matter what. “I was able to see God’s plan for me unfold as soon as I stopped trying to control every next move. Impact 360 amplifies who you are while allowing you to see God’s call more clearly. I am forever grateful.”