Alums with Teach for America…Nothing but Class
Teach for America is a national organization of recent college graduates and professionals who're noted for their outstanding performance and wide-ranging interests. They commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools to eliminate educational inequity in our country's lowest-income communities. Here are two of those splendid individuals.
Eric Wakild (BSE ChE '99)
I think public service is important because it gives a person an opportunity to live a life different than the one they would have otherwise led. And it makes a person think about perspectives different than their own. I chose Teach for America (TFA) because I wanted to challenge myself in a new environment, feel like I was making difference, and because I didn't want a "career" after undergrad. I taught with TFA from 2000 to 2002 and it started me on a great life path -- one I wouldn't have gotten in an engineering job.
I taught for another four years in public schools in Tucson, Arizona, and now I work for the Outdoor Pursuits program at Wake Forest University. At Michigan I had a pretty typical undergrad experience -- I did summer internships and co-ops, wondered why I was getting this degree, and felt really fortunate that the degree helped me get into a program where I felt I would be respected and could give back.
Maria R. Peralta (BSE ChE '95, M Eng '09)
I truly believe in the mission of Teach for America. Every student has the right to a great education, and providing energetic teachers with expertise in science and math really helped the students get enthused about these subjects. I was able to take time off from my engineering job to join Teach for America and give something to this important cause. I'm still in touch with a fair number of my students on Facebook! After my time with Teach for America, I volunteered with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Detroit Professional Chapter, working with the Young Engineers and Scientists Program (YES) on the weekends. We provided hands-on engineering concepts to ninth-grade students in Southwest Detroit.
During undergrad I tutored in the Engineering Learning Resource Center and I was president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. I think everyone has a responsibility to be a part of their community and participate in making this world a better place.