As commencement season approaches, a number of Arizona State University Sun Devils already know what they will be doing upon graduation. They will be making an impact in classrooms across America, changing the lives of thousands of children and their families by committing two years to serving in Teach for America.
The call to serve has drawn interest from Sun Devils from a range of majors, who all share an understanding of the importance of eliminating educational inequality. As a result, ASU has quickly emerged among the top large universities contributing to Teach for America (TFA) — currently ranked No. 4.
“Teach for America has dedicated its largest recruitment effort to ASU because they believe in the talent and commitment to service they find in Sun Devils, year after year,” said Cindy Parnell, executive director of Career and Professional Development Services at ASU.
For 26 years, the national nonprofit organization has worked to advance its mission to “enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”
Individuals selected to the program commit to a two-year teaching assignment in one of 53 low-income communities across the United States served by TFA.
“At ASU, we are especially proud of our partnership with TFA and our shared commitment to ensuring broad access to education and opportunity for all,” Parnell said.
Currently, 41 ASU graduates are serving in the program, and to date, 20 Sun Devils have been selected as future TFA corps members. Recently, these students were recognized at an Arizona Senate floor meeting and hosted for a day at the Capitol by ASU TFA alumnus Matthew Simon, who now serves as a policy adviser to the Arizona Senate.
“The goal of the TFA recognition and Arizona Senate tour was to enable Sun Devils to network with a TFA alumnus who shares their connection to ASU, and to observe firsthand the impact they can make on education policy,” said TFA recruitment director Veronica Aguilar.
ASU senior Ayanna Akinyemi was among the future TFA corps members in attendance at the Feb. 27 program at the Arizona Senate.
“The event was very inspiring,” Akinyemi said. “Having TFA alumni come and speak with us about their experiences in the corps and the skill sets they took away from the experience excited me even more to join the Memphis corps next year,” said Akinyemi, who is completing a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a minor in early childhood education.
Simon said the individual recognition received by Akinyemi and the other future TFA corps members in attendance was especially meaningful. As they were seated in the Senate gallery, each individual TFA future corps member was introduced by State Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, and congratulated on their commitment to service and educational equity.
“I wanted to reconnect with the ASU community and work to get more Sun Devils involved with an organization that changed my life,” Simon said. “ASU has an amazing student body that I think students across our country can benefit from.”
After graduating from ASU, Simon served as a TFA corps member in the Mississippi region. He returned to Arizona after his TFA experience to become the policy adviser to the Arizona Senate Majority.
“Seeing such energized Sun Devils at the event inspired me to continue doing the work that I am doing. It reminded me why I joined TFA and what I loved about being a Sun Devil,” Simon added.
There’s still time to apply for Teach for America. Applications are being accepted through April 21. To learn more, contact Veronica Aguilar, Director, Recruitment/ASU and TFA alumna at: Veronica.Aguilar@teachforamerica.org or 646-592-3399, or visit https://eoss.asu.edu/makeyourimpact.
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