Scholars obtaining career, life experience working with Teach For America

October 22, 2014

Teach for America has worked since 1989 to bring high-achieving college graduates to areas where students could use them the most.

Because of the connections made over the last 25 years, many universities have worked very closely with the organization to help reach those schools and Penn State is no exception.

In total, 55 Penn State students will be participating in Teach for America and nearly 10 percent of those are Schreyer Honors College Scholars.

“TFA has been a top employer for graduating Scholars for the last five years,” said Schreyer Honors College Coordinator of Career Development Lisa Kerchinski.

Many Scholars participate in Teach for America before entering the business or government sector, law school medical school or fellowship programs, according to Kerchinski.

“In these roles, they have an opportunity to impact both individual students as well as their local community,” Kerchinski said. “Teach for America allows them to utilize their skills and passion for knowledge and education to spark that same love of learning to a younger generation.”

Teach for American promotes that “opportunities should not be determined by family income or your neighborhood.”

Scholar alumnus Joshua Branch (Class of 2013, political science) joined because he believed in that principle.

“I believe every child deserves a quality education,” he said. “After graduating from Schreyer Honors College, I wanted to make a meaningful impact to a community that needed me. TFA provided that opportunity.”

In addition to teaching, Scholars are active as coaches, advisers and mentors, which allows them to get to know these students in and out of the classroom.

That type of interaction is something Scholar Alumnus Michael Yacovelli (Class of 2011, psychology) said led him to build lasting relationships with students who now are attending universities all over the country including Columbia, Penn and Princeton.

“Now that I am in medical school, I hope to one day be able to use my skills that I developed in TFA to, as a physician, work with similar populations in an effort to improve access to both medical care and create positive health outcomes for those in need,” he said.

Teach for America drives home the point that education transforms lives. Not only the lives of the students, but for the teachers as well.

“If I could sum up my time with Teach for America, it would be as follows: more challenging than I could have ever imagined, but more rewarding than I could have ever dreamed,” said Scholar alum Amarpreet Ahluwalia (Class of 2013, biochemistry and molecular biology).

Teach for America does offer full salary and benefits and they are actively seeking all majors and career backgrounds.

The next application deadline for Teach for America 2015 is Friday, Oct. 24.

To learn more about the organization and complete an application, visit

Last Updated November 18, 2014