The University of Texas at Austin’s Teach for America recruitment team is continuing our 2017 Corps Member features! We’re highlighting some of the fantastic individuals who have signed on as corps members, such as Xandro Verdugo, in order to shed some light on an organization that focuses on eliminating educational inequity once and for all.
Today’s featured corps member is Jeannine Hightower, a senior psychology and economics major. When she’s not studying, Jeannine keeps herself busy with both Chi Kappa Phi Chickadees Service Society and Texas Baseball Diamonds. Jeannine’s volunteer work with Chi Kappa Phi Chickadees Service Society inspired her to get involved in Teach for America: “Being a member of Chi Kappa Phi Service Society, I have been able to volunteer throughout the Austin community for the duration of my time at UT. Having the opportunity to work with such a diverse array of non-profits with varied—but equally important—missions, it inspired me to find my own niche of change. With this motivation, this past semester I took a development economics course that brought into perspective how different facets of development, including education, impact future outcomes. It forced me to evaluate child agency, the increasingly important correlations between education and health, and the large disparities that exist between the affluent and poverty-stricken and how the consequences disproportionately impact children.”
While Jeannine is interested in pursuing public policy after her two-year commitment, her primary concern is to “continue being an advocate for kids”. Jeannine’s primary concerns about teaching strikes a resemblance to many corps members’ concerns: accepting one’s own privileges and making learning relevant. “I believe the hardest part of TFA will be developing initial relationships with my students in a way that demonstrates my understanding of the challenges they may face while still being cognizant of my own privileges. I believe that teaching high school science is a task within itself, but it will be an additional challenge to relate the material to my students’ lives in order to make it relevant and interesting—but I also think it is an exciting challenge to tackle!”
Jeannine will be teaching high school science in Dallas/Fort Worth starting fall 2017. She hopes to inspire fellow college students to get involved with Teach for America by considering their own experiences with education. “My advice to students considering the program would be to think about your own experience in education—which teachers impacted you growing up and what lessons did you take from that relationship? I was very fortunate to have some astounding teachers and professors through my own schooling, teaching me not only important subject content, but also life lessons about motivation, determination, and my own ability to handle challenges. Reflect on those lessons and imagine how your life may be different if you didn’t have those individuals in your life. I found that through doing this, it inspired me to want to be that type of role model for my own students, and could very well inspire you to want to join TFA.”
Stay tuned for more 2017 Corps Member features! If you have any interest in applying, talk to our Recruitment Manager, Jorge Galan. He can be reached at Jorge.Galan@teachforamerica.org.