Meghan Ange and Amber Hill, both senior biology scholar students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), were selected by Teach for America (TFA). Each year the program receives approximately 48,000 applications and selects around only 12 percent of applicants.
“UAB is very proud of Meghan and Amber as they become our twelfth and thirteenth TFA corps members in five years,” said UAB President Ray Watts, M.D. “This honor reflects not only academic excellence but other core values promoted at UAB – a deep commitment to service and to teaching and inspiring young minds, particularly in our most underserved areas.”
Ange, a native of Huntsville who graduated from the Alabama School of Math and Science in Mobile, will teach secondary science, classes like biochemistry or physics, at a high school in Alabama. TFA says the organization is dedicated to providing excellent education in low income areas, with their teachers committing to a school for two years. They have been in Alabama schools since 2010, reaching 8,200 students in 12 sites across the state.
Hill, who is from Bayou La Batre, Ala., will spend the next two years teaching at a public school in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas.
Both students arrived at UAB intending to become doctors and earned spots in the UAB Biology Scholar program. Ange credits the mentorship of Bud Fischer, Ph.D., former chair of the Department of Biology, with encouraging her to explore, challenging her to think and supporting her decisions. He gave her the opportunity to teach the introductory biology lab at UAB, and that experience helped her decide to commit to TFA and make a difference in the lives of her future students.
“A lot of Alabama’s young people are not receiving the education they need to set themselves apart,” said Ange. “I was drawn to Teach for America because an education leads to supporting yourself, which leads to independence and freedom.”
Hill said the Biology Scholars program gave her a chance to teach students in the Department of Biology’s undergraduate labs, and that was when it hit her.
“I found that I loved teaching a lot more than doing research,” Hill said. “While I may have the potential to be a doctor, I know my heart would not be into it.”
Hill was guided by biology undergraduate advisor Nate Wade to research programs like TFA that offer training and experience in teaching.
“I believe Amber is a perfect fit due to her strong abilities in science and her true passion for teaching,” Wade said. “Amber’s students will benefit tremendously from her ability to foster curiosity while imparting fundamental scientific knowledge."
Both are considering the pursuit of graduate degrees when their two-year commitment to TFA is completed; Hill may seek a Master of Education, while Ange is thinking about law school.
“I agree with the TFA motto that every child deserves a quality education, and there are so many children in impoverished communities that need an extra leg up,” said Hill. “I hope to give that to them. People tell me that what I am doing is admirable, but I don’t see it as deserving of a pat on the back; I just see it as the right thing to do.”