Sang-Yop Kwon

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 Hannah French, in order to shed some light on an organization that focuses on eliminating educational inequity once and for all.

This week’s featured member is Sang-Yop Kwon. Sang-Yop is a senior chemistry major. While at UT, Sang-Yop was a Vice-President for Asian Business Students Association. Sang-Yop will serve in a secondary school teaching science and math in Tulsa. When asked why he prefers a small city, he replied, “A smaller city has a more homey feel, which is why I was drawn to Tulsa. I grew up in a smaller city near Dallas, and a large metro area like that felt harder to connect. The smaller the city you come from, th
e more you know the people in the community. For that reason, I prefer smaller schools.”

Sang-Yop is extremely passionate about the prospect of helping bridge the divide between low-income communities and STEM fields. “One of the big things from science is you can read from a book and learn the concepts, but one of the most important things is seeing it in a lab. In a lower income school, it’s harder to afford those labs. A lot of my teachers did cool labs. On paper science can seem a little boring. A lot of kids from low income areas don’t have the opportunity to see the cool stuff. I hope I can start to change that.” Although Sang-Yop is heavily involved in the chemistry field, one of the main reasons he joined TFA was actually a rhetoric class. “At the time I first heard about TFA, we were learning about educational inequity in a rhetoric class. One of the first topics we discussed was democracy, but that required the people participating to be able to think critically and talk about hard issues. That got me thinking about my background. I didn’t have a hard time, I went to a nice high school and came from a middle class family. I had a lot of great opportunities. I even started to teach in high school through UIL. After getting to college, I lost interest in teaching. After learning more about TFA, I was still a little hesitant. However, after going through the process, I was really excited to get started.”

Sang-Yop hopes to either attend medical school or graduate school after his time with TFA. In regards to advising prospective applicants, Sang-Yop said: “Be ready. It’s definitely a very noble cause, but it’s a very intensive process and people don’t realize how hard it can be before they get into it. Make sure you’re mentally prepared to go into it. One of the biggest things they tell you to do is talk to alumni because they truly know what it is like to be in TFA. Those people have told me it can be very exhausting. In TFA they take college grads who have no experience teaching, so their environments can be very difficult on people. Set expectations for yourself; yes it can be hard, but build up the courage to push through and keep in mind why you’re doing TFA and don’t lose sight of that.”

Stay tuned for more 2016 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.

Jorge Galan