Aaron Bos-Lun's passion for educational equity started long before he joined AmeriCorps. Inspired by his grandfather to give back, Aaron joined City Year D.C. right out of high school, where he lead a Saturday service learning program for middle-school students. After his commitment, Aaron attended Wheaton College in Massachusetts and took advantage of every opportunity to dismantle inequities in education. Because of his work with City Year and his experiences in college, Aaron felt ready to lead his own high school classroom as a 2012 Teach For America Miami corps member. He continued to teach for four years, and is now earning a graduate degree in education policy and management at Harvard University.
We spoke with Aaron about his journey into the education sector:
What personal, life experiences shaped your career path?
Aaron Bos-Lun (AB): My Grandpap was always a template for me. […] He was one of 15 children and grew up during the Great Depression. He dropped out of school to join the military. When an officer told him he was smart and said that he should apply to officer school, he instead chose to go to college to become a high school teacher. He used his opportunity to give to others through education.
After high school you joined City Year? What are some examples of positive impact you had on the community you served?
AB: The kids we served came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from the toughest schools in the country to affluent suburbs. They were all there voluntarily, getting to know different people and learning about issues bigger than themselves. We saw subtle but powerful mindset shifts. The stereotypes we all hear about middle school students – they don’t want to challenge themselves, wake up early, be involved in the community – were clearly not true.
How did you grow personally and professionally through City Year?
AB: City Year allowed me to enter college with programmatic and leadership skills. I also learned about race and differences. I saw how race was playing out in the daily lives of the kids we served. By the time I arrived at college, I sought out opportunities to learn about the history of race and racial issues in this country.
Could you tell us more about your path to Teach for America (TFA).
AB: Because of my City Year experience, I felt comfortable navigating college independently. My freshman year I met with my career counselor at Wheaton and learned how to apply for grants and traveled overseas to work with a development organization in South Africa. I chose TFA because I liked the idea of taking my patch work of interests into the focused role of teaching.
What has been your biggest inspiration to continue in the fight to end educational inequity?
AB: Because I grew up in small rural towns, I had no [understanding] of what it meant to be a gay person. In middle school, I remember rejecting the idea that I was gay. […] This experience gave me the lasting belief that no kid should look at the world and think it’s not built for them. That, combined with the lessons I learned from my Grandpap, inspire me to continue in this work. The problems in this country are huge, but through teaching I feel like I started to chisel away at those problems.
But, to change the system, it’s going to require a lot of effort from a lot of people.
City Year is proud to partner with Teach For America as a Career Partner to fuel the number of teachers working in some of our country’s highest-need classrooms. This partnership reflects the shared visions and values of both organizations and our belief in the importance of fueling a movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education. City Year strengthens an applicant’s competitiveness and chances for being selected for Teach For America. In 2015, over 400 CY corps members and alums applied to TFA, many of whom are now teaching in their CY region—in some cases—their CY schools. To learn more about our partnership with Teach for America, click here.