Joan M. Sherwood

Teach for America (TFA) recently released its annual ranking of the colleges and universities contributing the highest number of graduating college seniors to its 2017 teaching corps, and for the third consecutive year, Arizona State University ranks among the top five producers in the U.S.

With 50 Sun Devils joining the corps in 2017, ASU is the third among large universities contributing volunteers to TFA. Last year, ASU ranked fourth on the list with 41 graduates committing to teach for at least two years in urban and rural public schools across the U.S.

“We are extremely excited that ASU has moved up another place on the list of top TFA producers to take the number 3 spot — the highest ranking we have ever achieved with TFA,” said Cindy Parnell, executive director of Career and Professional Development Services at ASU.

“We’re thrilled to continue our longstanding partnership with TFA, which has resulted in a consistent pool of talented, diverse and service-minded college graduates committed to expanding educational opportunities for children in low-income communities.”  

Nationally, the 2017 TFA corps members come from more than 720 colleges and universities and represent one of the most diverse corps in the organization’s history, TFA officials said.

“Nearly half of our incoming corps members identify as people of color; 43 percent come from low-income backgrounds; and one in three are the first in their family to attend college,” said Veronica Aguilar, TFA recruitment director at ASU.  

“As corps members, ASU graduates are joining a powerful network shaping the political, economic and social future of our country across a wide range of career sectors,” Aguilar said. “Their decision to choose a career of impact is often rooted in their own college experiences, and we are proud to have so many Sun Devil alumni committed to working toward educational equity,” she added.

Nicolas Parra, a recent ASU graduate and current TFA corps member, credits his broad academic and leadership experiences at ASU for attracting him to the TFA opportunity.

“I taught WPC 101: Student Success in Business three times as an undergraduate, and fell in love with teaching,” said Parra who currently teaches in the Tucson Unified School District, where he completed his K-12 education. “When I started to research TFA, more and more, I found how aligned it was with my values as a citizen of the community in which I was embedded,” he said.

As an undergraduate, Parra took full advantage of all that ASU has to offer in and outside the classroom, participating in Undergraduate Student Government, Devils’ Advocates, Greek life, the Medallion of Merit Scholarship Program and more. In each of these experiences, Parra said he often found himself in a leadership role.

“By being able to join multiple clubs, meet hundreds of different people, showcase my talents and build my leadership toolbox, I believe that I became an ideal candidate for Teach for America,” Parra said. “I never would have received this plurality of opportunities at any other university.”

After completing his two-year commitment to TFA, Parra looks forward to attending law school.