By Randi Williams

As you’ve likely gathered from a year of blogs and not to mention your own experiences college is a time that is fun, challenging, exciting, overwhelming, and the list could go on and on. As a senior with four years under my belt at Oregon State I have had my fair share of experiences that prove this. Amid all the excitement that is your college career it can be easy to forget the reason we are all here.  We all hope to become educated and experienced in an area we want to work in so that after four years (or maybe a little more) you can go out into the world and successfully make your mark. Now, as Liberal Arts majors the possibilities of fields to enter and areas where good can be done are limitless, but hopefully my story will give you a bit of guidance and a glimpse into the life of an (almost) college graduate.

I am one of the few college students who came into freshman year with a major and stayed that course all four years. I have known from the time I was three that I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, and my time and Oregon State only reinforced that decision. By taking classes and getting involved with local schools early on I discovered a passion for teaching children from a low socio-economic background, which then led me to Teach for America. For those of you who don’t know, Teach for America is a program that aims to provide ALL children with the education and skills they need to succeed, despite their economic background.

Knowing that Teach for America was my final goal I researched their organization and gathered information whenever I could over the next three years at OSU. In a math class I took sophomore year I learned our TA (Teaching Assistant) had been accepted to Teach for America. At this point the idea of going to office hours still terrified me, but I eventually plucked up the courage to talk to her and she became a valuable resource. Even this year, two years after my TA graduated, we’re still in contact. Because I learned so much about the program I was able to cater my extra curriculars in college to activities that I not only enjoyed, but that I thought Teach for America would appreciate as well. Ultimately, knowing so much about the organization gave me a huge boost when it came time to apply, so if at all possible I suggest using your college experience to create a resume you think your future boss may like to see.

Though I try to put a positive spin on everything Teach for America I have to admit, actually applying to the program was the most stressful thing I have ever done. There were applications, resumes, essays, multiple interviews, and more. I do have career services to thank for getting me through the interview process though. My mock interview with them was significantly more challenging than the actual interview, which left me feeling very confidant.  The whole process took about six weeks from start to finish, with another month to find out if I had been accepted. But after all of that, and a fair amount of tears, I got in! I can honestly say that the moment I opened my email and saw, “Welcome to the 2012 Corps!” in the subject line was the happiest moment of my life and made all the stress of the process seem so trivial. The six months since then have flown by. I’ve taken and passed the tests I needed to be certified to teach Elementary school in North Carolina, applied to graduate school for my Masters in Teaching (the cost of which is completely covered through the AmeriCorps grant Teach for America corps members are awarded), completed fifty hours of pre-readings, observed at schools, and begun to prepare for my action packed summer in Tulsa, Oklahoma where I will begin the training that will allow me to fulfill my lifelong goal of becoming a teacher!



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