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Around Cornerstone: News

Kayla McDonald (‘18): A God-Designed Experience Beyond Graduation

Cornerstone alumna Kayla McDonald (‘18) returned to Cornerstone last week during secondary gathering to share with our students how life has changed since graduation. 

Kayla began her Cornerstone journey in third grade, and it was during her middle school season that she began to pursue a personal relationship with God. Once she reached high school, she rededicated her life to Christ and began to chase after Him and listened more closely for His voice in every decision she made.   

During her senior year, while most of her classmates were busy researching colleges, Kayla was fundraising with a goal of $14,000 to fund a dream that God had placed on her heart, a gap year.  

According to the American Gap Year Association (AGA), a gap year is defined as “a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one's practical, professional, and personal awareness.”

AGA emphasizes that a gap year is a year on, rather than a year off, to combat the idea that students are taking a year-long vacation from schooling. Instead, students who take time away between high school and college plan their year with specific goals in mind. 

In Kayla’s case, it was God designed.  

By the end of her senior year, Kayla had raised the funds needed to pursue her dreams, and she traveled to A Coruña, in the Northwest region of Spain. She found herself quite out of her normal routine and surrounded by a language barrier that was hard to overcome. For the next eight months, she immersed herself in the culture. She was very involved in numerous ministries, including an English club which provided language services to locals to practice their English.  

Kayla summed up her eight-month gap year by saying, “Overall, I walked into this feeling very unqualified, but quickly learned that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”  

Since coming home from Spain, God has opened many new doors for Kayla that are continuing to help her grow in her relationship with the Lord. She’s also using lessons she learned from her gap year back here at home. A common theme God has been teaching her is that it’s His will, not her own.  


“I have learned, beginning with my gap year, that I need to be open and available and say yes when Jesus opens doors and calls me.”

Kayla recently started college at Georgia Highlands, began teaching the cutest kids how to glorify God through dance, and started leading a group of freshman girls at her church. 

Kayla has felt something in her heart for the Midwest section of the United States. She is praying about doing a summer internship this upcoming year that will give her experience directly working with church planters and allow her to work in ministries in the Midwest area. She is excited to see how the Lord expands that calling in the future. 

Kayla adds, “All of these new doors have given me an opportunity to live intentionally and remember that there are numerous outlets to put Jesus on display.”