News and Events
Pepperdine Produces 18 Teach for America Participants
Next fall, a number of Seaver graduates will head back into the classroom — this time as teachers. A record 18 Pepperdine graduates have been selected by Teach for America, the program that trains top students to teach in low-income communities, out of the more than 35,000 graduating seniors who applied (a 42 percent increase over last year). This year's TFA corps consists of 4,100 select graduates, representing the largest incoming corps in its history. Thanks to the 18 chosen from Pepperdine, Teach for America is Seaver College's top employer in 2009.
"Pepperdine has made Teach For America's 'Top Contributors' list for the first time, and stands out as one of the top contributors among faith-affiliated schools of similar size," says Josh Dickson, recruitment director at Pepperdine for Teach For America.
The goal of Teach For America is to close the academic achievement gap for students in low-income communities. On average, these students are three years behind their peers in more affluent areas by the time they are 9 years old, according to the latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as the Nation’s Report Card), released last month.
“We’re inspired by the record number of outstanding recent graduates who are choosing to channel their talent and energy toward addressing the unacceptable disparities in educational outcomes that persist in our country,” says Wendy Kopp, Teach For America’s founder and chief executive officer.
The program is both prestigious and selective, accepting only 11 percent of applicants nationwide. "Teach For America recruited and hired more Seaver students this year than any other single employer," says Brad Dudley, executive director of career services and civic engagement. "This brings the total of Seaver alumni who have served in TFA to 66 individuals since its beginning in 1991. This makes a significant impact in the communities they serve and in the future of the students they teach."
Seaver College dean Rick Marrs was also heartened by the number of Seaver students who will participate in the TFA program this fall. "I know these Seaver graduates will impact the students in these schools powerfully," Marrs says. "They humble and inspire us with their willingness to give freely of themselves, even in the most difficult of circumstances.”
Here is a breakdown of where Pepperdine graduates will be impacting student lives next year:
Placement Location: Los Angeles
Hometown: Turlock, California
Placement location: Los Angeles, California
On service: "I am open to serve wherever I am most needed. After learning about the needs in the Los Angeles area, I firmly believe that the best way that I can serve and make positive change in this community is through education."
Hometown: Corona, California
Placement location: Greater New Orleans, Louisiana
Why he decided to apply: "I spoke to some teachers and they convinced me that I can have a huge impact on the students that I teach and the community that they live in, even if I only end up teaching for two years. I also learned about the idea of redistributing one's talents and skills in my Urban Ministry class which also inspired me to apply."
Major: Business Administration
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Placement location: Jacksonville, Florida
On addressing injustice: "Children do not choose their families or their communities, yet this determines the schools they go to and the teachers they have, and this is generally the greatest indicator of their futures. I think the differing levels of educational resources in America, especially at the youngest stages, is one of the greatest injustices a child in this country can face. Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed, and Teach for America's mission to ensure this happens inspires me."
Hometown: Gig Harbor, Washington
Placement location: Denver, Colorado
Future goals: "After this experience, I hope to attend graduate school in journalism. These are the stories I want to write about — human interest and societal issues. But I want to familiarize myself with some of the challenges our society faces, beyond just the statistics and data. Teach for America will give me a firsthand account of what is really going on, and how I can work for change as a journalist having seen it."
Major: Sociology, Minor: Social work
Hometown: Amherst, Massachusetts
Placement location: O'ahu, Hawai'i
On her placement: "Hawai'i is continually one of the lowest ranking states across the U.S. — fluctuating between the 47th and 49th in rank — and the achievement gap is extremely real and visible in this region. I have a challenging and exciting road ahead as a seventh and eighth grade special education teacher, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to help work for change in our nation's education system."
Major: Spanish and International Studies (emphasis on Political Science)
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Placement location: East Palo Alto, California
Motivation to teach: "Quite simply — to make a difference. Everyone deserves a quality education; this is my opportunity to help the cause, and it's only the just the beginning."
Major: Integrated Marketing and Communications
Hometown: Pasadena, California
Placement location: Huntington Park, California
Personal goals: "Always evolving! I hope to come away from Teach for America as a more educated, enlightened, and focused leader."
Major: Biological Psychology
Home country: Saipan
Placement location: Los Angeles, California
What inspired her to apply: "During my first three years at Pepperdine, I was involved in Jumpstart. As each year flew by, I found myself amazed at the progress that all of our children made. I thought to myself, if I could make that difference by being there for just a few hours twice a week, how much more of a difference could I make as a teacher in the classroom? I decided that I want to give these two years of my life giving to the children who are under-served."
Hometown: Lake Forest, Illinois
Placement location: San Jose, California
Future goals: "My initial goal after TFA is to teach for a few years and then open up a free preschool in a low-income area. My long-term goal is to have multiple preschools that are coupled with day-care centers and job-resource centers for parents."
Major: Organizational Communication and Spanish
Hometown: Sequim, Washington
Placement location: Houston, Texas
On shaping her perspective: "From this experience I hope to take away a new perspective. I know that I am still painfully unaware of the inequalities that exist in this country and I hope that this experience will be a fresh wave of those realities."
Hometown: Edna, Kansas
Placement location: Baltimore, Maryland
On his commitment to the cause: "The crimes of ignorance, low expectations, and fiscal bias are perpetrated against innocent children in low-income communities every day. My role as an advocate for equitable education despite economic status doesn't end when my teaching commitment is finished."
Major: Sociology and Psychology
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Placement location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (special education, math)
On his own teachers: "Each teacher and professor I have had thus far in my career as a pupil has contributed to my desire to be a part of this organization. Observing and appreciating their passion and technique for teaching has been monumental in my pursuit of joining Teach for America."
Major: International Business
Hometown: Libertyville, Illinois
Placement location: Colorado
Her motivation to teach: "The opportunity to address a desperate need. Apathy and low expectations for children are pervasive and resulting in a huge loss of opportunities for individuals, their communities, and our nation in its entirety."
Major: International Studies and Spanish, Minor: Non-Profit Management
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Placement location: Dallas, Texas
On teaching: "To me, teaching is an opportunity to love. To love with actions and in truth."
Major: Public Relations
Hometown: Longwood, Florida
Placement location: Las Vegas Valley, Nevada
On changing the world: "I think the greatest weapon in anyone's life is knowledge. I believe with information and ability one can change the world. I think what motivates me to teach is the thought that I can give disadvantaged children tools to have a fighting chance in life."
Major: Spanish and International Studies, Minor: Accounting
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
Placement location: Houston, Texas (Grade 4-8)
On following her calling: "I have always felt that I have been called to work in the nonprofit sector, particularly focusing on children, equality and education. I have been so blessed in my life to have wonderful teachers that have believed in me and my academic ability. I feel called to serve these under-served kids that deserve every opportunity in the world."
Major: Intercultural Communications, Minor: Studio Art
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Placement location: Hawaii
On her own education: "Coming to Pepperdine, there were certain classes in which I felt thoroughly inadequate in taking because I was never taught that content. It angered me that the quality of education differed in various places, and it frustrated me even more that the division was usually due to one's socioeconomic status and/or race. I believe God does not want us to be complacent, but He purposely places passions within us to motivate us to move in doing His work and work toward justice."
Placement location: Los Angeles