Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

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September 29, 2011

Alumnae Make Commitment To Teach for America

By Abby Simmons

Ten alumnae are going back to school this fall. They’ll be at the head of the class as part of Teach for America (TFA).

These women are passionate about TFA’s mission to bridge educational achievement gaps in low-income communities, and they represent majors spanning the arts, business, humanities and sciences.

Ariel Rosenburg (BSA’11) is teaching physics and physical science at McLain High School in Tulsa, Okla.

“I want to fundamentally change the path that my students are on,” Rosenburg said. “I want them to walk out of my classroom with the belief that they can and will go to college, that they are smart, important members of society.”

TFA hired a record-breaking 5,200 new teachers for the 2011-2012 academic year, increasing its total corps to 9,300 teachers working in 43 regions across 34 states and the District of Columbia. According to’s June 2011 list of Top Entry-Level Employers, TFA reported the second highest number of hires from this year’s pool of college graduates. Enterprise Rent-A-Car ranked first among the 931 organizations participating in the survey.

Jeremy Corbett, a former TFA teacher, spent the 2010–2011 academic year recruiting students from Carnegie Mellon and Penn State.

“Students are recognizing TFA as a premier opportunity,” Corbett said. This year, just 11 percent of approximately 48,000 applicants were selected for the program.

Corbett said TFA looks for service-oriented student leaders to serve two-year terms. The students he recruited from Carnegie Mellon were involved in activities such as Student Government, Greek Life, tutoring programs with Pittsburgh Public Schools and Strong Women, Strong Girls.

Debra Ignelzi, a Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) assistant director and career consultant, said her office has seen an increase in undergraduate interest in short-term, or “gap year,” experiences.

“There are a multitude of reasons for this trend,” Ignelzi said. “I often hear students say that they want to have a unique experience and a break before returning to graduate school or settling into a full-time job. It has also been a good way for students to keep learning and building marketable skills while the job market improves from the recent economic downturn. The CPDC is an excellent first stop for students who want more information on options such as TFA, Americorps, or the Peace Corps.”

While taking a break from her five-week TFA Summer Institute in Philadelphia, Jordan Valley (HS’11) said, “I’m thankful that I went to a school as rigorous as Carnegie Mellon. The institute is intense. We’re working 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., co-teaching and learning about topics like behavior management.”

Valley will be an early childhood education instructor at a Washington, D.C.-based charter school, her first choice for location and grade level.

Carnegie Mellon’s recruits will join the ranks of more than 24,000 TFA alumni who have entered the workforce since the organization’s founding in 1989.

Valley and Rosenburg are approaching the experience as an opportunity to serve while acquiring skills that will be attractive to employers within and beyond the field of education.

“I expect that the next two years will dramatically change any plans I might put into place,” Rosenburg said. “I could see myself staying in the classroom, or perhaps going onto a higher administrative role. If this is the case, I will get my master’s degree in education. I might also decide to do something completely different. But only time will really tell. I know that my TFA experience will change my life path.”

For more information about TFA or to make a student referral, contact Danae Abood, Carnegie Mellon TFA recruiter, 

TFA Recruits

Here’s a look at the 10 
alumnae teaching for 
(and across) America.

Adeola Adegboyega-Panox, HS’10

Elyse Carr, A’11
Greater New Orleans

Tiffany Cheng, MCS’11

Victoria Docherty, TPR’11
Mississippi Delta

Lauren Gumbel, HS’11

Maria Mauro, HS’10

Ariel Rosenburg, (BSA’11)

Mallika Sahay, HS’11
Bay Area

Kate Smith, HS’11

Jordan Valley, HS’11
Washington, D.C.