The Collegian
Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Finding a way to give back

Education as a post-graduation career

When I think about my time here at University of Richmond, I think about a whirlwind of incredible experiences: working as a barista, writing page after page of research papers until 4 a.m. and meeting the most amazing professors in the world. When I arrived at Richmond, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated. But as I got deeper into my computer science major, I had second thoughts. The more I reflected on all the opportunity and privilege I had that helped me get to where I was, the more I wanted to give back what had been given to me and make an impact.

I know I’m incredibly lucky. I worked hard to get to – and through – college, and faced struggles along the way, but I also went to a high school where students were expected to graduate. We had plenty of extra support and resources to help us plan our next chapters. Whenever I needed support, I never had to look far.

As a member of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Tribe of Virginia, I know that that’s not true for far too many of my fellow Native people. Native Americans living on reservations such as Pine Ridge face incredible struggles. Among them is a grave lack of opportunity in education. Although I did not grow up on a reservation, I feel pulled to be part of helping the children who do access the futures they deserve.

There are so many valuable, important ways to get involved. For me, I can think of no better place than the classroom, where – with support and access to resources – kids can recognize, embrace and capitalize on their enormous potential. My cousin started her education career as a teacher with Teach For America. After seeing the impact she was able to have, I applied to TFA as well.

I didn’t decide to teach because I think I’m going to be a hero. This work will be incredibly challenging and humbling, and I will have to push myself harder than I ever have to give my students the education they deserve. I will need to partner closely with the parents, teachers and community members who have been working towards justice and equality long before I arrived. But I don’t want a job that lets me turn a blind eye to the injustice kids face every day. I want one that forces me to look injustice in the face and fight it with all my heart. I want one that holds me accountable for the injustices that plague Native communities; although I did not create them, I would still bear responsibility if I chose not to address them.

When I become a Teach For America corps member after graduation, I’ll be joining a network of more than 47,000 people working relentlessly to make access to opportunity equitable. It’s a network of leaders with vastly diverse backgrounds and experiences who are working across sectors to create change. But we are all united around the fundamental belief that a quality education is not a privilege – it is a right. We can fight to ensure all students get to enjoy that right. As you think about what in the world you’re going to do after you leave here, I hope you’ll join us. 

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now