“So, Betsy, what are your plans after graduation?” We all know that dreaded question. After all, I’ve been avoiding graduation for four long years. There are countless things I’ll miss – Newark Deli and Bagels on a Sunday morning, late nights on Main Street, even the chaos of finding the perfect Reading Room seat during finals week– but now, as family members prod about my plans, my anxiety has finally dwindled. I can proudly answer that I’m going back to school, but this time as the teacher.
As a senior at University of Delaware, I’ve kept myself busy as an Elementary Education major, president of Project Change RSO and as the campus campaign coordinator for Teach For America. I always planned on a career in education because I know just how influential a great teacher can be. But it wasn’t until I started volunteering with young students who, despite their potential, weren’t given the same opportunities I had, that I started to see the systemic injustices in this country up close. I had always known the power and centrality of education, but now I knew that I wanted to work alongside students and families in low-income communities.
UD gave me the opportunity to take challenging classes and surround myself with people and activities that pushed my thinking. I want to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone after I graduate. I want to jump headfirst into a career that will give me an opportunity to have an immediate impact. That’s why I chose to become an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia with Teach For America.
I believe that a classroom is a powerful place for social change. When I think about the social issues I’m most passionate about — educational opportunity for all; equality between men and women and equitable access regardless of socioeconomic status or race — I came to realize that there’s no better place to tackle them head-on than in the classroom. After all, education is the most powerful tool at our disposal to disrupt inequity and create opportunity.
As a corps member, I know I’ll face incredible challenges as I tackle these complex and systemic issues. But I also know that my experiences on campus have equipped me to take on these obstacles on behalf of my students. And if not me, then who?
I look forward to creating a community with my students full of pride and school spirit, and I can’t wait to bring what I’ve learned here into my classroom. I can’t wait to teach an entire classroom about what it means to be a Blue Hen. When I think about the things I love most about being on this campus, I realize I can take so much of those experiences with me.
I’m excited to step out of our now-comfortable Main Street coffee shops, lecture halls on The Green, and the little town that we call home, to start my path as a leader in a different kind of classroom – one where I’ll get to impact the lives of the next generation as their teacher. A classroom where I’ll have the opportunity to make a positive change in a community I’ll call my new home.
So as you consider which path you’ll forge after graduation, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Listen to the moments that have defined your college experiences thus far. We all have to leave UD someday, but I can think of no greater privilege than helping the next generation of students have the opportunity to become Blue Hens.
Betsy Levine is a senior elementary education major. She is also the president of Project Change and a 2017 Teach For America Greater Philadelphia corps member.