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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

One Tall Voice: I did Teach for America and you should too!

Published: September 19, 2008
Section: Opinions

It seems that each year, as the semester wears on, I compose an article about my summer internship for my column here in the hoot. I am sure that many Brandeis students had fantastic summers as they traveled all across the world and accomplished wonderful things. I have heard many of my colleagues talk of their experiences in Europe, Africa and Asia, engaged in all varieties of work from teaching to humanitarian aid. This summer, I too had an amazing internship experience. I didn’t see the far-off places of overseas destinations, but got to travel to varying cities within my own country. I didn’t participate in the mission of ending worldwide poverty, but I worked at an organization set on ending one of our country’s worst injustices. This summer, I had the distinct pleasure of working as a Recruitment Intern at the national headquarters of Teach For America.

I got this job through the Eli J. Segal Fellowship, a program sponsored by a foundation of the same name. They might be better known to you as the people who invited President Clinton to speak at Brandeis last December. My job had me as the only intern working for the 150 or more people on the Recruitment Team at Teach For America. These professionals are charged with the special mission of bringing only the finest and most capable people to Teach For America’s ranks. I can talk at great length of all I did for the organization. I helped compile a recruitment resource book that is now in the possession of all the professionals who recruit on campus for Teach For America. I booked travel for hundred of trips to several summer conferences and got to go to these events myself. This had me travel to New Orleans and Baltimore, and have some of the most fun I have ever enjoyed. I can go on at length about my internship experience and all the wonderful things I witnessed and accomplished. I am extremely grateful to Teach For America for giving me the opportunity to work for such a wonderful and awe-inspiring organization.

What I would like to discuss is the effect that Teach For America is having on our nation’s educational system. Studies by the Urban Institute and others have proved the efficacy of TFA teachers in lessening the educational achievement gap. Furthermore, through my internship, I got to meet firsthand hundreds of capable and inspiring Teach For America alumni. These individuals are some of the most brilliant people I have ever met. Some of them I worked with, others I met along the way. Many of the alums, like Michele Rhee, chancellor of the D.C. public school system, who I saw speak in Baltimore, have done wonderful things. And numerous corps members have stayed with the organization as staff members and recruiters. Meeting these people, reading these studies and understanding the vast magnitude of the organization was a wonderful experience. It truly showed that Teach For America is an effective and impact-full organization, as it is comprised of some great individuals who are dedicated to fighting one of our nation’s worst injustices.

All of this talk may seem like rambling, but they all come to an end. In fact, I have two goals in writing this article. One is to convince people to attend an event next week on Monday September 22nd at 7:30PM in the Sherman Function Hall at which Wendy Kopp, the founder and CEO of Teach For America will speak. Working at the central office of TFA and seeing Wendy speak twice before, I have been able to gauge just some of the accomplishments of this notable woman. Her employees admire Wendy for her vision and passion for the organization. Furthermore, Wendy Kopp is also an exceptional person who has much to teach about the non-profit arena. I hope that everyone can make the event, I am sure it will be extremely worthwhile.

The other goal of this article is to convince people to apply for Teach For America. This summer, one of the Recruitment Directors asked me why interest in TFA seemed so comparably low at Brandeis. I really didn’t have an answer for her. It seems that people here eat social justice for breakfast, and this organization gives young individuals the opportunity to get off their butts and better our society. With this employment you get full salary, full benefits, and many other advantages that would take another article to detail. The first application deadline passed last week, but there is one coming up in November, and applications will continue to be accepted until the middle of February. Yale had 10 percent of its seniors apply, Michigan had 7.6. Come on people, we can totally beat that! I plan on being a third deadline applicant myself.

I had an absolutely wonderful internship experience this summer. I hope that many Brandies students will see the founder of Teach For America speak as I am sure it will be am event to remember. I also hope that Brandeis students will think about joining Teach For America themselves so that they too can be a part of one of the greatest organizations of our time.