For Nakeya Boyles K’16, the choice to become a campus campaign coordinator for Teach for America was easy. Since 1989, TFA has placed college graduates into public schools for a minimum of two years. In addition to being full-salaried teachers, TFA corps members receive a grant through Americorps to help them in graduate school or other endeavors.
“If you have a passion for believing that education inequity can be a solvable problem, then you should apply for TFA,” Boyles says. Boyles’ mentor, Heather Haines, K’03 became a teacher after her two years with TFA, and now Boyles seeks to devote her life to fighting educational inequity, starting with joining the TFA corps this fall in Georgia.
As a K student, Boyles is certainly in good company. In 2014, 10 K graduates joined the corps. Kalamazoo College was put on the list of the top 20 of small colleges that, on a per capita basis, supply the greatest number of alumni.
TFA corps members say that it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting into. Going into education is not for the faint of heart. Though not sure she wanted to go into teaching, Samantha Foran, K’15, applied to TFA and was placed in Connecticut.
“Teaching is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting,” she admitted, “I love my kids so much and so it has become a labor of love, but it’s seriously a challenge.” She’s now considering staying in education, possibly as a guidance or college counselor.
60% of TFA alumni go on to fight educational inequity in some context. While some of that 60% stay in teaching, there is also a significant amount who do government and community work.
Sam Voss, K’14 decided to do TFA largely because of her involvement with the H.Y.P.E program during her senior year at K. In her time with TFA in Detroit, her mind has been opened.
“Educational inequality was no longer a statistic within some psychological journal, it was a child with dreams and a hope for their future that was being ignored because of the zip code they were born into.” She advises those seeking to apply to “Be prepared to work harder than you probably ever have. Make sure you’re committed to the program.”
For more information, contact Nakeya Boyles at Nakeya.Boyles12@kzoo.edu.