Letters to the Editor

Syracuse University senior will reverse role in classroom to teach after graduation

“So, Matt, what are your plans after graduation?” We all know that dreaded question. After all, I’ve been avoiding it since I stepped on campus in August of 2012. There are countless things I’ll miss about being a student, but now as family members prod about my plans, my anxiety has finally dwindled. I can proudly answer that I’m going back to school, but this time as the teacher.

As a student at Syracuse, much of my time has been occupied by school work. After graduation, I always planned on a career in the medical field in the hopes of directly impacting the lives of people in need—I couldn’t imagine a more rewarding path. But it wasn’t until a campus recruiter reached out about Teach For America, that I started to recognize the major disparities in education in the United States. The same systemic injustices that prevent so many people from receiving adequate health care play out in education as well. Syracuse gave me the opportunity to take challenging classes and surround myself with people and activities that pushed my thinking.

I believe that the classroom is a powerful place for social change. When I think about the social issues I’m most passionate about—educational equality, ethnic equality, poverty—I came to realize that there’s no better place to tackle them head-on than in the classroom. After all, education is the most powerful tool at our disposal to disrupt inequity and create opportunity.

I’m excited to step out of the comfort zone to start my path as a leader in a different kind of classroom – one where I’ll get to impact the lives of the next generation as their teacher. A classroom where I’ll have the opportunity to make a positive change in a community I’ll call my new home.

So as you consider which path you’ll forge after graduation, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. What are you passionate about? What issues do you see in society today, and how will you address them? I can think of no greater privilege than helping the next generation of students to have the same opportunity I was given to pursue a great education.

Matt Barbaccia, Biomedical Engineering ’17

Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach For America

2017 Teach For America-Hawaii Corps


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