Skip to main content

#6degreesofLVV Featuring Haejin Woo

How one alumni fights to give students the opportunities she didn't have.

Haejin Woo

By Amelia Pond

December 19, 2017

#6DegreesofLVV aims to capture the personal stories of corps members and alumni currently serving in Las Vegas. The person featured in each story connects to the person prior in a number of different ways. Both individually and collectively, these unique stories will show you a new side of Las Vegas education.

Growing up with immigrant parents that don’t speak the language and being a first generation college student, you get to learn that you don’t have equal opportunity. When I went to UCLA and realized how different I was from others, I wanted to help other students see their potential because they’re either not aware of it or they don’t know where to find resources.

I taught a Communities in Schools (CIS) Academy class (designed to help credit deficient juniors and seniors get back on track to graduating, explore college and career options, and develop life skills) during my second year as a corps member. I continued to teach for a third year to stay in touch with my junior year students who were becoming seniors. I wanted to see them graduate. I know that they had goals and they could do it without me, but I wanted to finish with them and be there for them. They all started out with missing credits at the start of their junior year, but ended up at a 100% graduation rate. One student tore his ACL and didn’t come to school all of second semester of his junior year. The last day of his senior year, we found out he was missing a credit that was necessary for him to graduate for an online class. I told him to come to school the day after every other student had already finished (it is the day where teachers have to clean up their classrooms for the summer). I brought him his favorite snacks, and he completed all of the online work he needed in order to get the credit. It was down to the last minute, but he was able to graduate and walk with all of his friends.  I got to meet his mom and grandparents at graduation, and I still vividly remember their smiles and tears of joy. We were all so proud of the young man who made it.

I now work for CIS full-time and love how it is aligned with TFA so closely, and how it provides a platform for students. We actively recruit current corps members and alumni to teach the course. Karishma is one of our amazing teachers. All of our teachers are great, but we’ve realized that the professional development you get within TFA makes sure you’re aligned to the program.

What gets me out of bed each morning is knowing the kids will have someone connecting them with resources, pushing them, and helping them graduate. The people that I work with and interact with give me hope. Everyone is so passionate—whether it’s TFA corps members and alumni or CIS site coordinators—we are all trying to make changes for the better. It’s nice to see people fighting for our students.  There can be a lot of negativity, and it’s nice to be surrounded by people who have a vision-- and are working to make that vision come true.

Do you know someone with a great story of collective impact to share? Tell us here: