While many of us at Williams have many people in our lives that have helped us achieve our aspirations, particular teachers who have made learning fun often stand out in our memories. But now, imagine that due to your race or class the opportunity to be encouraged to learn to your full potential would rarely, if ever, present itself to you. For 13 million children in this country, only one in 10 will graduate from college. These statistics are particularly true for African-American, Hispanic and Native American children, who are three times as likely to live in low-income communities.
While these statistics are extremely discouraging, the wonderful thing is that you can help change them and end educational inequality. This is exactly what Teach For America corps members are doing. Teach For America is the corps of outstanding recent college graduates and professionals that are fighting to end educational inequity in our society. Just last year, some 3,500 top college graduates turned down Wall Street and graduate school to sign up for a two-year commitment to teach our nation’s most underprivileged students instead.
In fact, Teach For America alumni are actually being rewarded for their hard work. Teach for America has partnerships with every one of the top 15 law schools, eight of the top 10 business schools and a litany of medical schools. Some perks include waived application fees, two-year deferrals, course credits and even scholarships or grants in some cases.
The greatest benefit of all, however, is making a difference in a child’s life and arming them with the resources necessary to compete on a leveled playing field. During their two years in the program, corps members work relentlessly to help students reach their maximum potential. Yet, in many cases, the greatest impact comes after the two-year commitment. Many Teach for America alums go into medicine, law, policy, education reform and government where they apply their experience and expertise to change the system from the top-down.
Whatever your thoughts may be about the future, please take the time to remember your teachers and consider applying to Teach for America. In a time when change has been the catchphrase of national campaigns and hope seems to be the hallmark of our nation, there is no better way to embrace these ideals than inspiring and encouraging children to have the same passion for learning that you do.
While there are many quantifiable returns in the long run, perhaps the most important is the personal gratification you will receive from making a tangible difference in the lives of children. Please visit the Teach for America Web site at www.teachforamerica.org and apply now. A child is waiting for your help; in fact, 13 million of them are.
Emily Deans ’09 and Emily Flynn ’09