After graduating with honors from Yale, and with opportunities for admission to medical school, law school and MBA school available, Timeica Bethal decided to return to her Chicago housing project neighborhood to teach children.
Bethal is one of many young adults across the nation investing time and talents into working for Teach for America, a nonprofit organization focused on providing an excellent education for kids in low-income communities.
TFA will hold an information meeting for BYU students interested in this cause today in the Wilkinson Student Center room 3280 from 7-8:30 p.m. A local bakery, “The Chocolate,” will cater this event that will guide students through the TFA application process and feature BYU alumni speakers who have taught for TFA.
Craig Alder, from Boise, Idaho, the campus campaign coordinator for TFA at BYU, said he sees this information meeting as a great opportunity for students to fully recognize the immense need for TFA.
“We will be discussing the education inequity in our country,” Alder said. “A lot of students don’t realize how much of a struggle it is for so many kids in our country to even graduate from high school. The information will be an eye opening experience for many students.”
TFA strives to fight against the common negative correlation of income levels and the quality of education. In America today, children in the bottom quartile of the income distribution have an eight percent chance of graduating from college. Comparatively, children from the top quartile have an 80 percent chance.
Recruitment director and BYU alumnus Adam Wilson passionately believes in the need for action to treat this concern.
“To do nothing about this issue is to silently endorse the status quo,” Wilson said. “I taught a group of students in San Jose, Calif., who were bright and anxious to learn … but they faced a myriad of challenges. … In my first year, my students were performing five years behind their grade level in math. After teaching them for two years, not only had 90 percent of my students caught up, but one-third of them were placed in honors math.”
In addition to TFA providing a chance to go forth and serve, it provides a good career opportunity. Businessweek ranks TFA as one of the best places to start a career, right in the top 10 with companies like Ernst and Young, Goldman Sachs and IBM.
Wilson experienced the career advantages TFA provides firsthand.
“I can’t think of a more meaningful way to launch my career,” Wilson said. “After the two-year teaching commitment, there are lots of exclusive partnerships with employers and graduate schools. When I applied to MBA programs, many of the top 10 schools waived my application fees, and some even offered me scholarships by virtue of having done Teach For America. ”
TFA is a well-recognized nonprofit organization. Those who are accepted have successfully endured a rather rigorous application process, and many TFA teachers regard it as one of the greatest challenges in their life.
“As best as I may try, I can’t put to words how challenging it is to be an effective teacher in an urban school full of underprivileged youngsters,” said Kelin Crane, BYU alumnus. “There are many days I want to quit, or the task is too great, but all things worth doing have opposition. After time and reflection, I’ve never regretted joining the corps … Joining Teach For America is the kind of decision you’ll never regret.”