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Elon alumni join Teach for America

Recent university graduates are headed out this fall to teach students who attend school in underserved or high-need regions of the country.

Ten alumni in Elon University’s Class of 2013 will return to grade school classrooms this fall as members of Teach For America, a national nonprofit organization that recruits recent college graduates to teach in high-need classrooms in rural and urban American communities.

The recent graduates will join more than 11,000 first- and second-year corps members working in 48 regions across 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Of the 6,000 first-year teachers, 39 percent identify as people of color. The same percentage received Pell Grants, and 26 percent are the first in their families to earn a college degree, according to Teach for America.

The two-year commitment comes with a salary based on geographic region, health benefits and opportunities to pursue graduate degrees through partner universities.

With majors ranging from religious studies to biochemistry, Elon University’s 2013 Teach for America corps members decided to join for many reasons, all of which align with the organization’s commitment to expand educational opportunities for children facing poverty in America.

Why some 2013 graduates decided to apply for and accept a position in the corps:

NAME: Genevieve D'Cruz
MAJOR: Spanish & Religious Studies
HOMETOWN: Chapel Hill, N.C.

I chose TFA because I've always wanted to work in education, and I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to get into the field while making a difference. I believe that every student has the potential to succeed but many just don't have anyone who believes in them, and I truly believe that every human being can change this world. I also believe that education can singlehandedly change and save the world, and I want to be a part of that process through my role as an educator, and hopefully someday as an administrator. 

NAME: Margaret Blehar
MAJOR: English Literature
HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, Pa.
ASSIGNMENT: Greater Philadelphia

I chose to join the Teach for America Corps without a doubt because I believe that EVERY child has the right to a quality education. Our country's achievement gap in education today is too large and I joined TFA with the idea that I can help change that one student at a time. A child's ZIP code or economic background should have nothing to do with that child's education, but this is unfortunately the trend that America sees in its schools every day. TFA seeks to solve this problem in our country, and I am honored to be a part of such an amazing organization.

NAME: Catherine Bell
MAJOR: Political Science
HOMETOWN: Raleigh, N.C.
ASSIGNMENT: Mississippi Delta

I decided to join Teach for America because I believe that all children, regardless of family income, race, or geographic location, should be given access to a good education. The support and guidance I received while in school has been critical to my success and I want to ensure that the students I work with are given the same opportunities. Though educational inequity is a major issue, I believe that Teach for America provides one avenue through which these critical problems can be addressed. 

NAME: Rosemary (Rosie) Towchik
MAJOR: Anthropology & Religious Studies
HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, Pa.
ASSIGNMENT: Greater New Orleans

Reflecting on my academic career, I was so blessed to have not only exceptional, caring teachers in the classroom but positive mentors outside of the classroom. I hope to be both. I am excited to work with Teach for America because I am dedicated to spreading the love of learning to all children, regardless of economic status or access to resources. All children can succeed and deserve an equal opportunity to do so. In addition, I value the support network that Teach for America offers in addition to local organizations and schools. No one person can change the education system on their own; positive change requires collaboration and cooperation from all involved. 

NAME: Chelsea Saggese
MAJOR: Environmental Studies
HOMETOWN: New Canaan, Conn.

Today many children are at a disadvantage when it come to education in the United States due to factors that are out of their control. Where a child lives dictates the quality of education they receive. As a result students in low income areas are on average 2-3 years behind students of the same age living in higher income areas. This education gap is why I joined Teach for America. Teach for America is working to close the education gap and give all children an equal opportunity to a quality education. Through Teach for America I will not only have the opportunity to catch students up to grade level but also motivate them to be the best people they can be inside and outside the classroom. Every child is capable of achieving great things and I am excited to have an opportunity to help them realize their potential and support them as they do so. I truly believe this is possible through Teach for America and can't wait to begin my work down in Alabama. 

NAME: Tracy McBride        
MAJOR: Strategic Communications
HOMETOWN: Lighthouse Point, Florida
ASSIGNMENT: South Carolina

I chose to join TFA to make a difference. Children shouldn’t be defined by their background or family history, but rather given a fair playing field. All children deserve an amazing education and this is my opportunity to make sure of it. I have a passion for helping others and an extreme motivation to help close the achievement gap. 

NAME: Caitlin O'Donnell
MAJOR: Print Journalism & History
HOMETOWN: Charleston, S.C.
ASSIGNMENT: South Carolina 

I joined Teach for America because I refuse to believe that there are students in our education system beyond help and I hold fast to the idea that great students are not born, but crafted by a secure classroom environment and constant encouragement. For me, teaching is about seeing the potential in every person – no matter his or her background or current situation – and believing they are worth the time and effort. As an educator, I want to be a creator of change, a source of hope, and an enduring advocate for the children not lucky enough to share the good fortune I received in the form of a top-notch education. Teach for America provides the opportunity, resources, and support to work toward this mission.

NAME: Julie Ronecker
MAJORS: Biochemistry & Public Health
ASSIGNMENT: Connecticut

By the age of 13, I had rappelled off cliffs, canoed with alligators and juggled on a walking globe, all while studying science, writing and math at an experiential school in St. Louis. During these formative years of discovery, I was building a love for learning. Eight years later, I seek to join Teach for America to instill a passion for learning in other young adults. My biggest hope is to inspire my students to delve into topics that interest them and to help them recognize individual strengths both inside and outside the classroom. I am joining TFA because I believe in closing the achievement gap, I believe in encouraging life-long learning, and I believe in the potential of every student. 

NAME: Blake Thompson
MAJOR: Human Service Studies
HOMETOWN: Elkridge, Md.

I chose to apply and commit to Teach For America in order to challenge our youth to be better. I will challenge them to be better than their peers, better than their idols, better than myself, and ultimately better than they were the day before. The Teach For America movement prides itself on closing the achievement gap and has successfully done so with their dedicated, humble and willing corps members who come from all walks of life. I have been admitted into a movement that will hopefully grow until all of the children in this country are receiving not only the best education money can buy, but the best education we, as educators, can give. As Ms. Maya Angelou said at Fall Convocation, “When you get, give and when you learn, teach.”

Eric Townsend,
8/20/2013 9:45 AM