Edward Leung ’16, Teach for America

Edward-LeungHaving grown up surrounded by socioeconomic and educational disparities, I have always been drawn to Teach for America’s mission – recruiting the best and the brightest to inspire the minds of the next generation, particularly from low-income communities. As a result, I had such an incredible experience at my Princternship with Teach for America’s National Office in New York City.

Day 1

I stood in front of a nondescript building, unsure of what the national headquarters would be like. When I got off the elevator, bursts of loud colors, open spaces and bustling activity hit me. I met my enthusiastic host, Alex Krupp ’10, Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, who took me for an office tour before heading over to a lounge – passing an in-office treadmill, comfortable sofas, and other creative arrangements of chairs and tables – to chat. She briefly introduced me to the two Princeton Recruiters for Teach for America (TFA) – Sean Healey and Kate Varnum, with whom I would be working closely later. I also met Recruitment Manager Alexander Donovan, and we conversed a lot about TFA’s missions, our backgrounds, and urban charter schools like Uncommon Schools.

After lunch, Sean and Kate assigned me a recruitment project that revolved around the following premise: Princeton students may regard a recruitment email from Sean or Kate as just spam, but if they received a personal email from a Princeton alum, possibly in their field, who was a TFA alum, that explained why the student should apply to TFA, this recruitment method would be much more successful. I was given a list of Princeton alumnae, mostly current and recent TFA corps members, and I had to choose ten alumnae who would be the best candidates for this recruitment process. I could also see what kind of experiences the alumnae had (the alumni had to rank their experiences at TFA on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being best, and they had to rank twice, one or two years apart), which aided in my selection process.

Day 2

On the second day, I met Kate at The Leadership and Community Service Academy, a middle school in Bronx, NY, where we observed a current TFA corps member in the classroom. After visiting another class, Kate and I left to head back to the TFA Headquarters, where I met two more people: Natasha Husein and Marquis Brown *09. Natasha, the Marketing Director, showed me TFA’s current marketing campaigns compared to former campaigns, and how they have changed throughout the years. We also discussed criticisms of TFA and how TFA has been re-branding and evolving to continually improve. Then I met Marquis Brown, Chief of Staff to the Chief Administrative Officer, who had attended the Woodrow Wilson School. Marquis essentially oversaw the infrastructure of the company (e.g., IT, Finance & Administration and Legal Affairs) and we had an inspiring chat about our backgrounds and making a difference.

Afterwards, I completed the project, and presented my ten alumnae picks to Sean, and I also explained why I thought these alumnae would be ideal candidates for the recruitment project, and possible questions we can ask them.

I was particularly struck by the creative and young nature of TFA. A lot of people I met, including Alex, Sean, and Kate had just graduated from college, and the energy in the offices was buzzing. I am also awed by the community sense of TFA – the idea that once a TFA corps member, always a TFA corps member (Natasha and I discussed current outreach strategies toward alumnae on continuing their involvement with TFA). Indeed, after this Princeternship, I am thoroughly convinced about TFA’s mission, and I definitely recommend this Princeternship to anyone interested in education. I am so grateful to Alex Krupp, Sean Healey and Kate Varnum for hosting me!