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ASU No. 3 contributing school to Teach for America last year

Incoming Teach For America corps member Nathan Martinez standing on Palm Walk at ASU's Tempe campus.

Incoming Teach For America corps member Nathan Martinez, who is graduating from ASU in spring 2022.

April 18, 2022

For the sixth consecutive year, Arizona State University was ranked a top producer of educators by Teach for America, the nonprofit that trains and recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in high-need schools all over the United States. 

For the 2021 Teach for America corps, ASU ranked No. 3 among contributing schools with large student bodies; 40 Sun Devils are among the 2,237 educators who joined TFA last year, representing 546 colleges. The 2021 corps was among the most diverse in the organization’s history: Nearly half identify as people of color, 55% are from low-income backgrounds and one in three are first-generation college students.

Being selected as a Teach for America corps member is highly selective and involves a weekslong process of interviewing, teaching a sample lesson and preparing an activity aimed at eliminating discipline disparities across racial groups.  

Krishnaa Pradhan, a recruiter for Teach for America, said Sun Devils and corps members deeply understand the value of educational equity and access.

“ASU students are dedicated to equity for underserved communities in and beyond the classroom, making an impact through Teach For America’s network of changemakers in every field. We are proud to have Sun Devils represented in the top contributing schools for TFA this year and in many to come,” Pradhan said. 

Nathan Martinez Rubio, a 2022 corps member, and a health care compliance and regulations senior at ASU, knows firsthand the impact that Teach for America can have on students. 

I have seen TFA in action. I have had over 10 teachers during my elementary and middle school years who were in the TFA corps,” he said. “It is truly incredible how a passionate leader is able to inspire and change the trajectory of their students despite not initially planning on becoming a teacher. It is a life-changing experience for both the corps members and their students, and I am living proof that that is the case.”

Martinez, who grew up in Phoenix, will be teaching middle school science in his hometown this fall. He said he’s looking forward to both sharing his passion for the subject and building skills for his career.

“I think I will be able to grow in my leadership skills, which will benefit me in my future career as a health care compliance officer,” he said. “I also think I will grow as a person since I will be interacting with students from many different backgrounds and situations — this of course will allow me to see different perspectives in my future career."

Having been a campus ambassador for Teach for America for the past three years, Martinez is well versed in the process and encourages other Sun Devils to apply.

2022 spring ASU graduate Ariana Afshari, who is earning her bachelor's degree in neurobiology and plans to become a physician, is headed to the Bay Area to teach high school biology as a corps member this fall. Afshari said her experience working virtually as a Teach For America IGNITE Fellow during COVID-19 reminded her of the stark reality of how socioeconomic status can affect educational opportunity. 

My desire to become an advocate for children through Teach For America comes from my childhood, where I owe so much to educators,” Afshari said. “It was at school, learning and leading, that I never felt displaced and eventually became a place of warmth and security for me. Academic life substituted for a suitable home life. I have a calling to reciprocate the mentorship that I had received in school.”

Afshari encourages Sun Devils of all disciplines to apply if they’re committed to fighting for educational equity for children, because the selective and rigorous program will allow you to give back and to learn valuable career lessons while surrounding yourself with talented colleagues. 

What makes a good doctor a great doctor is their ability to communicate effectively with patients; it requires a skill that you can’t find in a textbook, but you can master in the heart of a classroom: empathy,” she said. “Serving low-income communities as a teacher will build understanding of providing culturally competent care and how to offer empathy-driven means of communication that will ultimately make me a better physician.”

Contact an ASU recruiter now to find out when you can apply.

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