This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.
Part of my motivation for pursuing a college degree is the opportunity to give back to the community that has given me so much. This has also been a crucial factor in the fact that I have not dropped out of college. I say this because when I have needed the most support, I have had a community supporting me that included family, friends, students, teachers and community leaders. Now, I’m able to stand in front of high school students and parents, delivering a message of hope: that college is possible and even though the parents of many these students did not go to college, these students can make this experience a reality.
Evaluating My Options in Light of My Community
Over the last two years I have spent significant time deciding what I would like to do after I graduate. To answer this question, I had to reflect on my community to identify where I would be needed most. I debated whether to pursue a law degree, a master’s in public policy or a master’s in education. After talking to various individuals, attending several conferences and continuing to be actively involved on campus, I decided that going for a law degree was my best option.
The first thing that you have to understand about law school is that getting in is a very rigorous process and, as I am starting to find out, it can be very expensive. I signed up for a course this past summer that would help me prepare for the law school admission test (LSAT). However, while I took the LSAT in October and submitted a couple applications, if I’m accepted, I will be deferring my law school admission.
Choosing to Give Back
While I was studying for the LSAT, an opportunity presented itself: I was contacted by a staff member of Teach for America (TFA), a national teacher corps of college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years and raise student achievement in public schools. I believe that an education can be transformative, and I saw that this was an opportunity to engage students from a firsthand perspective. And, as a person who has greatly benefited from my educational experience, I saw TFA as a chance to give back. I went through the early acceptance process and was accepted into the TFA program on October 31, 2013.
Being an Agent of Change
During this semester I also interned for the Office of Migrant Education, and shortly after I began another internship with the superintendent of my local school district. Both these experiences continue to expand my knowledge and understanding of the K-12 system while allowing me be an agent of social change. Indeed, we have a lot of work to do; but, rather than watching from the sidelines, I want to be a part of the process that addresses these issues of educational inequity.
While my commitment as a teacher is for a minimum of two years, my commitment to students and as an educator is for a lifetime. I will re-evaluate the next chapter of my life in two years, but for now, I look forward to engaging students and being part of their educational journey. For the time being, I am preparing to teach bilingual education in San Antonio, Texas. It will be a different experience to be away from my home in California, but I appreciate the opportunity to continue to be an advocate in education.