West Virginia Wesleyan College senior Alexandra Roberts, a chemistry major and biology minor from Tampa, Fla., has been chosen to join the 25th corps for Teach for America. She will be teaching high school chemistry in an under served district of New York City, N.Y., such as Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx.
Teach for America is comprised of recent college graduates and professions who commit to teach for two years in rural and urban public schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational opportunity for all students.
"Teach For America shares my unshakable belief in the equality of all people, regardless of circumstance," Roberts commented. "Joining Teach For America pairs my enthusiasm for chemistry with my passion for social justice through the provision of quality education for all."
Teach For American requires a three-stage application process that requires applicants to not only provide their information about academic accomplishments, social justice efforts, and life experiences, but also participate in a phone interview and, finally, a sample lesson where applicants are given five minutes to teach on the topic of their choice. Roberts taught a lesson on the 1st Law of Thermodynamics.
Roberts' post-graduation plans did not necessarily include Teach for America. In fact, she was in the process of pursing medical school when she realized that she was being called to teach.
"I was in the midst of the application process [for medical school] before I realized God was calling me to teach," explained Roberts. "Teach for America is structured in a way that allows corps members to earn teaching certificates as part of the program, so it seemed like an ideal fit."
However, Roberts still plans on continuing a pursuit of a PhD in computational chemistry after her two-year stint with Teach For America is completed. Her acceptance into the corps and dreams for the future is a result of her educational journey thus far at Wesleyan.
"Excellent mentorships in both the chemistry and gender studies departments at Wesleyan gave me the confidence to fulfill my potential as a student researcher, peer tutor, and activist," stated Roberts. "Leadership opportunities through the Center for Community Engagement & Leadership Development prepared me to join Teach For America's efforts to address the complex social issues the American public school system faces."
Roberts also notes her faith and Wesleyan's role in her spiritual journey as inspirations for her interest in both the Teach For America program, as well as an overall interest in social justice.
"Also, Wesleyan's Christian community and commitment to social justice provided experiences that have laid the foundation for and guided my adult faith, coalescing in James 1:27, 'the purest religion is caring for orphans and widows'," stated Roberts.
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding individuals of all academic disciplines to commit two years to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. Today, more than 10,000 corps members are teaching in 46 urban and rural regions across the country, while nearly 28,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education.
For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter.