Today's spotlight feature is 2018 corps member Vignesh Ramdas! Vig is a senior majoring in Management Information Systems; next fall, he will be teaching high school math in Dallas, TX. During his time at UT, he's been heavily involved with the Undergraduate Business Council, the Guild of Carillonneurs, and Student Government.
Vig first became inspired to be a part of Teach for America after being involved with running and organizing the VIP speakers series that the Undergraduate Business Council organizes every year. During his junior year, they hosted Elisa Villanueva Beard, the CEO of Teach for America. "We hosted TFA’s CEO and it was honestly one of the most inspirational talks that I’ve heard. After being left in awe by her, I spoke with Jorge for the first time and started considering it seriously. I knew I wanted to make a difference beyond starting my career with a typical trajectory job.
Vig is also influenced by witnessing the effects of educational inequity in his hometown itself. "When I was in high school, I went to a relatively privileged high school and I noticed that others schools didn’t often have the same resources as me, which often correlated with their race and location. Even in the same district, the level of education and resources weren’t the same for these schools. Understanding how big the divide was in other places was kind of infuriating to me, and I was really excited to do something and help fix it one day."
After leaving the Corps, Vig is interested in doing a variety of things. "I know that I’m going to be at Deloitte Consulting after graduating. In the future, I hope to actually start or run my own wind symphony and work with high schools in some youth capacity."
For students that are considering applying for TFA, Vig says this, "If it’s something that you feel you’re even marginally interested in, meet with Jorge and test the waters and see if you stand for the same mission as TFA. The other thing that I struggled with a lot was not allowing myself to be impacted at all by what people think of TFA and what others might think of your path. Don’t stray from what you feel. I needed to make sure that I was in it for the right reasons, and I had to make sure that it was something that I truly wanted."
To those who have already applied and are looking forward to interviewing, Vig says to focus on being genuine and true to your beliefs. "Throughout the interview process, don’t just say things that sound good, say things you truly believe and care about. If you end up taking the job and end up regretting it, it’s going to impact the kids themselves. I talked to Jorge a lot, which was instrumental. I made sure to be honest with him about what I was thinking. I didn’t want my conversations with him to be about TFA propaganda and so he really gave me the right conversations that I needed." To prepare for the interview, he focused on finding the roots of his passion for TFA's mission and also worked with his little sister. "I found the common threads in my life that linked me to being a teacher and thought a lot about my favorite educators and the impact they had on me. It’s not about crafting good sounding answers, it’s a lot more about what the answers were for me and being okay with my honest answer not always be the ideal answer. I also prepped for my lesson with my little 8th-grade sister. I did some basic order of operations with her and worked with her for 2 days before the interview. Having someone to just hear your thought process and make sure everything makes sense to others is very important."
Vig felt that the most important part of the process was truly understanding your reasons for doing TFA. "Doing soul searching to realize that this is something that you really wanna do. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t leave any stone unturned and explore all other paths and that despite those other paths, this was still the one that I wanted to do."
We're looking forward to seeing Vig have an impact in the classroom next year! Stay tuned for more 2018 Corps Member features each week! If you have any interest in applying, talk to our Recruitment Manager, Jorge Galan. He can be reached at Jorge.Galan@teachforamerica.org.