Outstanding Student Leader Ashanti Murdock poses with President Roderick J. McDavis at the 2012 Leadership Gala

Photo courtesy of: Ashanti Murdock

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Senior Ashanti Murdock excited to join Teach for America

Dance and public relations major will teach in Indianapolis

Teach for America wasn't Ashanti Murdock's first post-graduation career choice.

While working toward a bachelor's degree in specialized studies with a focus in dance and public relations, the Massillon, Ohio, native aspired to one day work in fashion and entertainment public relations, and had not even heard of the education movement until approached by a recruiter.

"At the beginning of my senior year I was approached by Colleen Crawford, a Teach for America recruiter. I knew very little about Teach for America and to be honest it wasn't my first career choice at the time," said Murdock. "Then, in October, prior to me applying, I attended a 'Multicultural Leadership Weekend' in Indianapolis, where I met with corps members and directors of Teach for America Indy. It was here that I realized that I was meant to find my calling with Teach for America."

Teach for America more than a career choice for many college graduates, it is an education movement for those who want to help ensure that kids growing up in poverty have access to quality education. The corps has placed more than 5,000 of their members across the country in low-income communities, offering training, support, compensation and benefits packages to employed individuals.

However, to be a corps member, candidates must exhibit specific qualities and go through a rigorous application process before being considered as qualified candidates.

"The application process was very intense. I applied in October of 2011 and every month following that date, we applicants faced another obstacle, another interview and another challenge," stated Murdock.

According to the corps' website, the employer seeks candidates who have demonstrated skills such as past leadership and achievement: achieving ambitious, measurable results in academic, professional, extracurricular, or volunteer settings, and strong critical thinking skills: making accurate linkages between cause and effect and generating relevant solutions to problems.

After receiving word of her employment with Teach for America, Murdock found she would be teaching in Indianapolis. She explained that even though the lengthy application process was over, other hurdles still presented themselves in the coming months.

"On Jan. 17, I received my acceptance email. I went to Indianapolis in May to attend my weeklong induction, and then went to Phoenix to begin my summer training," Murdock said. "I will be teaching High School English in Indianapolis while earning my master's degree in education from Marian University."

Prior to her application in October, Murdock recounted that her experiences as a diverse soon-to-be first-generation college graduate motivated her to join the cause.

"As a multicultural student it is rare to find a teacher that looks like me in many of my classes. In my high school, the only employee of color was our lunch lady," stated Murdock. "Today I am proud to say I am a first generation graduate and finalist for the 2012 Ohio University Senior Leadership Award."

Murdock said she hopes that her story will inspire future students to pursue their dreams, goals and ambitions as she did.

"I hope that my students use me and my story as an inspiration. Everyone has a dream, it's my job as an educator to help make my students dreams, through the power of education, become a reality," said Murdock. "I know now is my time to make a difference in the lives of my students in Indianapolis."