The education that Bexis Matos ’09 (Journalism, Public Relations) and Erika Savage ’09 (Sociology – Human Services) received at New Paltz will be shared in classrooms across the East Coast.
The recent graduates have been accepted to the highly selective Teach for America program for the 2009-10 academic year. Teach for America is a national organization that places recent college graduates in urban and rural schools.
Matos begins a five-week training session on June 23. Come September, she will be teaching secondary-level social studies in Philadelphia. Savage leaves for training in July before moving to Baltimore and working in early childhood education. Students like Matos and Savage are placed in one of 29 regions based on their prior experiences and undergraduate studies.
Acceptance into the program is rigorous. Only 20 percent of the more than 24,000 applicants were accepted to the corps for the 2008-09 academic year. In addition to receiving pre-service trainings this summer, Matos and Savage will also receive ongoing professional development during their two-year commitment.
Matos decided to apply for the program because of her educational background.
“As a recent immigrant from the Dominican Republic and a Bronx resident, I have experienced firsthand the struggles of educational inequality,” she said. “The Bronx high school I attended lacked the basic resources such as after-school programs, a library, computers as well as sufficient books to accommodate students.”
At New Paltz, Matos worked hard to “reach the level of my educationally advantaged counterparts.” In April, Matos received the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.
Savage said she applied for the program because she wants to make a difference. She added that the mission of Teach for America, which is to eliminate educational inequality, matches her own values.
“I want to use my experience and knowledge to help children,” she said. “And I am up for a challenge and different adventures.”
Last year, there were 6,200 corps members teaching in classrooms across the country. Graduates from all academic majors, career interests and backgrounds can apply to the program.