While many of Katie Christon’s fellow classmates at commencement this Sunday are headed to Fortune 500 companies or graduate schools, she’s chosen a less-followed path: Teach for America. In June 2013 Christon will start her training to teach high school math in Rio Grande Valley, which is located in the southernmost tip of Texas.
Teach for America is national teacher corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in under-resourced urban and rural public school districts across the country.
“One of the main driving forces for me applying for Teach for America was having somewhere I could go to gain a new perspective on the world with a short timeframe,” Christon said. “I also didn’t want to get a corporate job right away, but I think working with nonprofit marketing or education would be cool. I thought Teach for America could give me the network for that.”
Christon, a marketing and psychology major, is originally from Cedarburg, Wisconsin, and she is no stranger to volunteer work. Throughout her time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she was active in the UW-Madison chapter of AIESEC, a global youth volunteer organization. During the summer of 2012, Christon traveled to Brazil to teach high school students about entrepreneurship, globalization, and culture. Her experience helped her choose Teach for America, and gave her a new perspective on growing up the United States.
“I realized how privileged we are, or at least how privileged I am, coming from a nicer background and being able to go to college,” Christon said. “Less than one percent of those students in Brazil will ever go to college.”
While Teach for America may seem like a somewhat unorthodox path for a business school grad, Christon said that many of her classmates have jobs from a broad spectrum of companies and nonprofits.
“I always thought that you’d graduate and everyone would have the same type of job from your major, but I was surprised at how many people are not following any particular path,” she said.
Although Christon, who is a fifth-year senior, is excited to graduate after four-and-a-half years, she admits the nostalgia might kick in soon.
“I’m excited to be done and not have to do school for a while, but at the same time I love being a Badger and going to the football games.” She said. “Even though right now I feel really excited to graduate, I’m sure that once it happens I’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m done: what am I supposed to do now?’”
Christon graduates this Sunday, December 16, at the Kohl Center, along with other students from the Wisconsin School of Business and UW-Madison.