After almost 15 years of being desperately focused on my own education, I was exhausted, emotionally drained, and felt like all I had done in that time was coming to a bleak end. As a junior at the University of Notre Dame, I watched as my friends and peers snatched up internships and offers for paid summer research positions at various institutions. I didn't know what I wanted to do in my impending future, but I knew what I didn't want to do.
The ACE program seemed like a new and unexplored option: an opportunity to try something that I thought I may be able to do effectively and be passionate about. For that reason, I decided one day in the basement of Haggar Hall (the Psychology department at the university) that this was the direction I wanted my life to go in, at least for this transient period in my life. If I had the chance to be in a classroom and to interact with children every day, I would do everything I could to seize that opportunity. With that decision on that day, I committed to the application process and shortly after, I was able to commit to three years with the ACE program through my acceptance into the ACE internship that would precede my two years of teaching service.
Fast forward to one and a half years later: I am now a 21-year old, self-contained 3rd grade teacher in charge of 19 Oakland, California kiddies. I struggle immensely- but I love the students I teach without reservation. I attend my students' cross country meets, cantor at the school's weekly masses, and work to manage a school newspaper. I wouldn't change it or backtrack in any way.
I chose to do the ACE program because of the proverbial "desire to give back." In this short amount of time that has been my teaching career (about 2 months), I have given a lot of myself but gotten so much more from the people and community that surround my placement in Oakland. Now, I wake up and stick with this because it is so formative to the person that I am looking to become, and I have 19 children who form and shape who I am becoming as well.