Some TCU students without education degrees have decided to enter the teaching field after graduation through the Teach For America organization.
Teach For America selects college students from around the country to serve as teachers for at least two years in 39 rural and urban areas in the country, according to the organization’s website. The purpose is to improve the quality of education in low-income communities.
Senior marketing major T.J. Shepherd said he decided to accept a position as a corps member with Teach For America even though he had multiple job offers that fit better with his major. The desire to make a positive difference in the world drove his decision, he said.
“Community service is a really big part of my life, and I really wanted to look for something that will allow me to do that after graduation,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd also said he hopes the experience will make him grow up and that he was excited to experience life outside of TCU.
Senior political science and philosophy double major Ross Thomason said he accepted a position with Teach For America in January.
In addition to the personal satisfaction of making a difference in the world, Thomason said a major benefit of the program was having a reliable job with a good schedule.
Thomason said he didn’t expect to be a teacher at age 22 but that the opportunity was something he couldn’t pass up. Thomason said he thought about going to law school or receiving his master’s degree after graduation but he couldn’t afford it. He said he could pursue his master’s degree in his second year of teaching and participating in Teach For America would also look good to potential graduate schools.
“It’s just one of those intermediary steps that is a good transition from an undergraduate to a professional or a graduate student,” Thomason said.
Cara Smith, the TCU campus campaign coordinator for Teach For America, said TCU and Teach For America built a strong relationship in recent years.
“[Teach For America] really does recruit some of TCU’s best students, and I think overall we’ve had a lot of interest the last few years,” Smith said.
The number of TCU students who applied and were accepted this year could not be released but that there were currently 32 first- and second-year Teach For America corps members who graduated from TCU, Smith said.
Smith, a senior political science and math double major, said she also accepted a position with Teach For America after graduation. She said she would teach in Hawaii.
Shepherd and Thomason both said they were assigned to teach in the Dallas region but proposed Texas budget cuts to education could jeopardize their positions.
Smith said Teach For America had not lost funding from federal budget cuts but individual placement regions had been impacted. But Smith said the organization would work to ensure all members have a teaching job at the start of the school year.
“Teach For America wouldn’t place someone in a region thinking there wouldn’t be a job for them,” Smith said.