“I’ve seen the achievement gaps in schools in Baltimore and here in North Carolina through the education department and ‘Big Brothers, Big Sisters’,” says Berry. “That’s what really motivated me to apply.”
Berry is a psychology major with a minor in special education. She says she feels more prepared for the challenge thanks to experiential learning experiences offered in the School of Education.
“The education department put us inside local schools our freshman year,” says Berry. “Since I’m used to working with students and being in a classroom, I think I will be more comfortable than many other teachers starting out. I’m really excited because I know my degree is going to make a difference. I will get the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in the real world.”
Teach for America recruits leaders to teach and help expand educational opportunities in low-income communities. The aim is to help all students succeed by holding them to high expectations and supporting them so they can overcome the challenges of poverty.
Berry says the program actually found her. She wasn’t even considering Teach for America until she opened an email from HPU’s Office of Career and Internship Services.
“I was set on the Peace Corps,” says Berry. “Then I got that email, read about the program and fell in love with it, so I applied. Since then, I’ve become the unofficial spokesperson for Career Services. I tell all my friends not to delete their emails. I read one, and here I am.”
Berry says she was also encouraged by Dr. Sarah Vess, assistant professor of education.
“She really pushed me to do this. She told me I’m good with kids, kept her door open to me and allowed me to bounce different ideas off of her during the application process,” says Berry.
“The work Teach for America does is the reason Alicia wanted to be a teacher in the first place,” says Vess. “She is a natural leader with a drive to succeed, and I am thrilled that future students will now benefit from Alicia’s passion and natural ability.”
Berry will spend the summer at Teach for America training sessions and setting up her classroom. She’ll start teaching in the fall.