The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Teach for America offers valuable opportunity to serve

As a senior, I often find myself wondering about the role I will play in the wider world upon graduation. This weekend, I had one of those precious ‘aha’ moments. I got to see the tremendous impact I could have as a teacher in one of our state’s highest-need regions. In the Rio Grande Valley, there are many students growing up without many of the basic necessities like electricity and running water that we at SMU take for granted, not to mention the additional challenges they face like immigration status, limited access to health care, and language barriers. Too often, these students don’t get the educational opportunities they deserve.

In the Rio Grande Valley, I met numerous educators who are working to change this tragic reality. In spending a long weekend with Teach For America corps members and alumni, along with other local teachers and leaders, I realized that this could be me next year. These teachers, knowing that their students can achieve at the highest levels when given the right support, are a critical piece of the exciting efforts underway in the Rio Grande Valley to give our kids the excellent education they deserve no matter their family income.

As a Texas native and a member of the Hispanic community whose parents immigrated to the Lone Star state from Mexico, the weekend trip proved insightful. While in McAllen, I had the opportunity to visit Teach For America corps members’ classrooms, attend panel discussions and meet with community leaders.

Several Teach For America alumni who have continued teaching in the Valley after their two-year commitment, graciously hosted me in their home. I was inspired when talking with these committed leaders about their students’ potential and felt the passion they have for their work.

My time at SMU has proved invaluable in shaping who I am as a scholar and a person. It has provided me with a launching pad to a fulfilling and meaningful career. As a Teach For America teacher, I could have the chance to partner with others across classrooms and communities to help a new generation of students have these same opportunities for success.

The wide disparity in the quality of education available to kids according to their zip code or family income is the greatest challenge facing our state and it will take a generation of committed leaders to solve it.

As members of the SMU community and future leaders in education, business, law, government and many other important fields, it’s imperative that we ask ourselves what role we’ll play in the broader efforts to expand educational opportunity. It is clear to me that Teach For America corps members are called to use their full potential in mitigating the crippling educational achievement gap found in our school systems. I hope many of you decide to be a part of this fulfilling and critical effort.

Jose Campos is a senior majoring in political science and economics. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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