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Program wants UA students as future teachers

By Alida Kunsa
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 17, 2004
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The nationwide Teach for America program will kick off its UA recruiting campaign at the end of this month.

Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that seeks to place people in teaching positions for two years in low-income rural and urban communities, will be searching for upcoming graduates from any major.

"There are not many programs in existence where you can make an immediate impact at the age of 22," said LaLona Hughes, TFA regional recruiting director.

The UA Teach for America office will hold informational meetings Sept. 28 and 29 and will screen a CNN segment on the organization Sept. 30. Students of any major are welcome.

Hughes said TFA could change the minds of both students who think they know what they want to do and those who don't.

Besides being the regional recruiter for San Diego State University, the University of San Diego, University of New Mexico, Arizona State University and the UA, Hughes is a Teach for America alumna as well. She attended the University of Virginia and graduated in 2002.

Hughes said she thought she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life and how she was going to go about it until her adviser introduced the program to her.

Hughes said core members are more than just teachers.

"I impacted the community and changed lives. And undoubtedly it changed mine," Hughes said.

Katie Khan, a political science and business sophomore and one of the four campus campaign managers at the UA, said the program takes a lot of dedication but is worth it.

"Statistics and testing shows these kids are learning and improving," Khan said.

There are many benefits to participating in the program, but Khan said people need to be dedicated to do it.

"The amount of work and the challenging nature of working with kids, you've got to really want to do it," Khan said.

In 2003, 98 percent of working teachers were from majors other than education, Khan said.

This year, 3,100 national core members are teaching over 260,000 students nationwide. Not all teachers are recent graduates. Some are working professionals who decided to take time out from their careers for the program.

It costs $9,000 to recruit, support and train each core member.

The $34 million organization, founded by Wendy Kopp in 1989 during her senior year at Princeton University, gets its money through private funding. Investors include Sony, Gap and Paramount Motion Picture Group.

There are 18 UA graduates in the program and 62 who have completed the program.

With about 16,000 applicants nationwide every year, only 16 percent get accepted as core members.

Applicants need to show evidence of achievement, motivation and the ability to motivate others, dedication, critical thinking skills and have respect for others, Hughes said.

Students must also have an undergraduate degree, a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher and be a U.S.


"People need to be ready to move mountains," Hughes said.

This year's goal for recruitment at the UA is to receive at least 100 applications and to accept at least 30 into the program, Khan said.

Financial aid is available to help core members move to their placement location and student loans are deferred for the two-year commitment.

People interested can apply online at the Web site by Oct. 24 or Feb. 18. Recruiters will look at applications for a couple days after each due date and will inform people of their status after a couple of weeks.

A UA graduate of history and political science, Scott Flabetich is in New York City for one year working as a recruitment liaison.

Flabetich most likely will not apply for the program, but believes in the mission of Teach for America and wants to help them achieve their goals.

"It takes a certain special person to succeed, and we only look for the best of the best," Flabetich said.

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