Two Seniors Awarded
Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color
by Stacey Kutish
Seniors Ogechi Irondi and Olufemi "Shane" Ogunnaike are two of just 25 recipients of a Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color from the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Each will receive a $30,000 stipend to complete a master's degree in education, preparation to teach in a high-need public school, support throughout a three-year teaching commitment, and guidance toward receiving teaching certification.
"Teaching, especially for elementary schooll is so much more than lesson plans and standardized tests," says Irondi. "My biggest goal is for students to leave my classroom feeling as if they can and will amount to something. I've always said that I want to improve the education system in this country one child at a time, and that's what I'm going to do." This fellowship will afford her the opportunity to pursue a master's degree and teacher certification in elementary education.
Irondi, from Laurel, Md., designed a special major in which she is studying psychology and educational studies. She credits her experience at Swarthmore with setting her on a path to become a professional educator.
"Although I had tutored and mentored students since I was in middle school, I never really considered education as a career plan," she says. "Everything changed my freshman year at Swarthmore when I took an Introduction to Education First-Year Seminar. That course, coupled with my involvement in the Dare 2 Soar tutoring program, solidified my interest in education. I could no longer ignore the growing need to change a system that does not allow every child to succeed and I could not ignore the drive I felt to help make that change."
Ogunnaike's interest in education and related policy was inspired by personal experience. "After taking my SATs in high school and receiving my results, I was confused by how there could be so much variation of scores both in my school and nationally, particularly if everyone is supposed to receive the same standard of education," he says. "This small interest turned into a huge passion as I came to Swarthmore and started to take education courses, tutored students, and began work in the field. I hope to help students see school as a safe space to grow and to be able to teach them how to learn."
Ogunnaike, from New Brunswick, N.J., designed a special major in sociology and anthropology and educational studies and is pursuing a minor in psychology. He has served as president of ABLLE (Achieving Black & Latino Leaders of Excellence), mentored middle school children in Chester through his involvement in Project Blueprint, and planned major campus events through his involvement on the Large Scale Events committee. Ogunnaike looks forward to continuing studies in elementary education where he plans to focus on social studies and educational theater at the master's level, with the support of this fellowship.