Teach for America (TFA) has recognized the University of Richmond as one of the top colleges in the nation for placing graduates in the program, which provides teachers for underserved urban and rural school systems. Ten Richmond students were accepted from the class of 2010, and 11 students in the class of 2009 were accepted for the program.

Since graduating from Richmond, Lauren Bouas, ’09, who majored in history and political science, has served as a teacher with TFA because of her genuine concern for struggling children in inner cities.

“I was hooked on the idea of inner-city education,” she said. “I would have pursued this career even if I hadn’t gotten into TFA.”

This determination to make a difference is just what TFA recruiters are looking for. TFA has grown at an explosive rate since it formed in 1990, but applications have outpaced the organization's growth. This allows recruiters to select the most qualified graduates. 

“We select the leaders of tomorrow to work in the classroom because they’re the type of people who are going to go on to make long-term change,” said Amanda Mills, a recruiter for TFA.

The University of Richmond has a long history of successful TFA applicants.

“Richmond students represent a unique intersection of strong academic achievement with high levels of involvement in leadership, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for at TFA,” Mills said. “There are just so many people that represent that at Richmond.”

Bouas said that Richmond fostered her desire to lead and help others.

“It was at UR that I fell in love with social justice,” she said. “Everywhere I turned at UR, there were opportunities for me to practice that passion and learn to love it more. I think it was the out-of-class experiences, such as interning, tutoring, studying abroad and being a resident assistant that prepared me for doing this really hard work.”

And hard work it is. Bouas is teaching sixth grade social studies at a school in Kansas City called Southwest Early College, where the mission is to take children from all academic levels and prepare them to take college classes in their sophomore year of high school.

“Teaching is absolutely, hands down, the most challenging experience ever,” she said. “There is a constant urgency to reflect and improve on what you’re doing. But you really are joining a movement of people who are changing this world every day, where it matters the most. That’s the magic of the classroom.”

In 2009 and 2010, Teach for America received more than 46,000 applications and accepted fewer than 10 percent to the program.

The image above is by Wugging Gavagai and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.