Young Achiever: Brandon milks Princeton call
When Brandon Jones was accepted into Princeton University last year he thought he would be on campus that September.
Instead, he decided to take a gap year and found himself in the last place he expected — a dairy farm in Ireland.
The 19-year-old said: “It’s very random, I know, but it was a really great experience; I milked 200 cows twice a day.”
Brandon, from Southampton, was excited to attend the prestigious university but wanted to take a year off to travel and gain work experience.
He said: “I wanted a different experience before I went into Princeton, because obviously when you go to a place like that you’re going to be working hard.
“It’s not that I don’t like working hard, but I wanted to experience something else.”
The young scholar applied to the university while attending Milton Academy, a boarding school just 20 minutes away from Boston.
He explained that their focus on undergraduate studies, as well as their reputable social studies programme, seemed best suited to his pursuit into international relations.
Brandon added: “When I found out that I was accepted I just broke down; it was like a blackout almost, I was just so happy.
“It’s been my dream for a very long time to go to a school like that and it was kind of the culmination of a lot of years of hard work and dedication to my studies and my activities outside of school.”
Despite his eagerness to attend, Brandon instead spent his autumn break travelling to the Netherlands, Belgium and France after working in Ireland for a month. However, he soon found himself back in Bermuda in November after a personal tragedy struck his family.
Brandon explained: “My grandfather passed away, which was a big blow for me — he had always been someone who was always interested in what I was doing.
“Whether it was sports, school or music, he was always present, and although he didn’t talk a whole lot his presence was felt.”
He added: “Shortly after that, I thought it would be good to try and stay closer to home and do something productive, so that’s how I kind of started looking at opportunities in the reinsurance industry.”
Brandon said that he had been working with Ascot Group since February as an intern with their healthcare team. While he was there he had a chance to take another trip and visit Egypt for two weeks in May.
Brandon said: “I got a lot of raised eyebrows when I tell people that I was in Egypt, but I’ve always had an interest in Egyptian history and mythology.
“Being able to go and see temples and the pyramids had me speechless. It was amazing.”
Brandon said that he will continue to work at Ascot Group until August before travelling to New Jersey to attend Princeton.
He added: “The gap year has forced me to mature in a way that I think may not have happened if I had chosen to go straight into university.
“With all of the work experience and the travelling I got to do, I’d say it’s been great.”
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