Ogonna Obiajunwa - Why I Believe Memphis Academy

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As an immigrant to the United States and the child of immigrants, I have experienced the struggles of trying to educate oneself without the luxury of having all the necessary resources or attending the best school system. From a very young age, however, I was pushed to work my hardest because I was told there was nothing I could not achieve. I know that not every child is instilled with this same mantra in the midst of circumstantial hardships, and this is something I want to help ameliorate.

As my parents acquired more stable careers in America, they were able to ensure that I had teachers and mentors who supported me and did not put a cap on my success. I would go from being a young avid reader with untapped potential to a young woman driven by social change and a love of learning; it was educators who shaped me along the way.

My choice of college was inspired by the many ways that the University of Chicago prepares its students to be well rounded scholars and lifelong inquirers, students like myself who became well acquainted with the politics of the city and the problems surrounding the public education system. When I began to learn more about Chicago Public Schools, I remembered my own upbringing and early proximity to issues like the school to prison pipeline. I became involved with local tutoring organizations and saw bright, kind students who were eager to learn, but I wanted to be able to help more formally—as an educator.

In my decision to join Teach For America, specifically Teach For America – Memphis, I envisioned scholars not unlike the ones I had come across and one I had once been myself—burgeoning with potential and in need of the right resources. I want to be a resource, a mentor, and a leader for students who need opportunities to reach success. I believe that Memphis is a city rooted in deep history, a city whose education system can benefit from continuing in the legacy left behind by those such as the late Martin Luther King Jr..

Memphis is a city that is bursting with passion, with people who work hard despite setbacks. This is something I greatly admire. I chose to become a founding teacher at Believe Memphis Academy, because I wanted to be a part of a team of educators who believe in passion and innovation as tools for ending educational inequity. Through the work that Believe wishes to accomplish, I see students in Memphis reaching heights they never dreamed possible. I see children going on to attend college in a world that tells them they cannot, and I see them also coming back to their city and contributing back to the community. I know that a new school with the right team of caring administrators and teachers is the answer that so many families in Memphis are looking for to create change for generations to come. I hope to be a long-lasting part of these developments as a founding teacher at Believe Memphis Academy, and I cannot wait to begin my teaching journey.

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Ogonna Obiajunwa is the Founding 4th Grade Literacy Teacher of Believe Memphis Academy. Ms. Obiajunwa holds her bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago where she majored in Political Science. She is a current Teach For America corps member, and we are thrilled to have a teacher of her passion and hunger join the Founding Team of Believe.

Danny Song