“Future World Changer” appears at the bottom of nonprofit and leadership management senior Alex Miller’s email signature, ending a list of titles suggesting she will have no problem accomplishing this.
Miller plans to change the world through her involvement with Teach for America and her dream of making education policy.
“I’m so passionate about making sure that every child has that opportunity … to truly attain an excellent education,” she said.
According to the Teach for America website, the organization is dedicated to providing excellent education to children living in poverty. Members of the program start by teaching for two years in a low-income community.
Nikki Gusz, special assistant to the dean at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, said Miller is passionate about education.
Recently, ASU was ranked 14 in the large school category on the Teach for America’s Top Contributors list, which classifies the top 20 schools contributing the most graduating seniors to the program.
“The ranking is a demonstration of ASU students’ commitment to broadening the public good,” Gusz said.
Miller plans on serving her two years after she graduates in 2014. Teachers in the program can be sent to locations across the U.S., but she would prefer to go to the Bay Area, Dallas, or St. Louis, as she already has personal connections in each of those places.
After she finishes her two years, she would like to move to the policy side of education by working in the legislative branch.
“One of my big passions is making higher education more accessible and more affordable,” she said. “I would love to see more scholarships at the university level.”
She said she also wants to see increased federal financial aid and fewer students taking out loans.
The goal of Teach for America is two-pronged, Miller said. The organization focuses both in the classroom and outside, as former Teach for America participants who are no longer teaching still provide a voice for the educational needs of children living in low-income areas.
Miller works as a campus campaign coordinator for Teach for America under the direction of Liza Roesch, recruitment manager for the organization.
“Alex is one of the hardest working people I know,” Roesch said. “She is very well-versed in Teach for America’s mission.”
Miller’s duties with the organization include giving classroom and student organization presentations. Roesch said Miller works with five other interns, but that she mainly deals with students at the Downtown campus.
Along with her work with Teach for America, Miller serves on the executive board of Up ’til Dawn, a program that raises funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is also the vice president of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Student Association.
The partnership between ASU and Teach for America is multi-faceted, explained Roesch. Teach for America prepares corps members in the Phoenix area over the summer, and ASU offers a master’s partnership where corps members can work on their degrees while teaching in the program.
Teach for America spokeswoman Shawnee Cohn said in an email that the high number of participants from ASU shows that ASU graduates have the characteristics they need to be successful teachers.
“This ranking is important because it’s a testament to the fact that ASU students continue to be deeply committed to making an impact in the movement to expand opportunities for high-need students,” she said.
Students graduating from any major may apply for the program. Roesch said there are seven characteristics the organization looks for when recruiting students, including perseverance, academic achievement and leadership.
“I’m honestly just so excited to work with ASU students because I really do feel like there are so many of them driven by the idea of giving back,” Roesch said.
She has been working as the recruitment manager for two months.
Miller has always wanted to give back, but didn’t always know exactly what that looked like. She said she found her purpose through Teach for America.
“I think that the Teach for America program has really helped me find my ‘why’ in life, the why I get out of bed every morning, the why I push myself to do the things that I do,” she said.
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