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Our Impact

This Mission Fuels My Work

Yesenia Castro (New York ‘07) shares why she is still connected to the mission of pursuing educational excellence and equity.

By Laura Zingg

May 16, 2019

It Was Hard. But the Mission Drove Me.

Growing up, Yesenia Castro’s parents worked hard to ensure that she and her sister had the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Yesenia found a deep connection with Teach For America’s mission, and has worked to create the same opportunities for her students as a 2007 New York corps member. She is now a school principal at KIPP Raíces Academy in Los Angeles.

My name is Yesenia Castro, and I served in the 2007 New York City TFA corps in the Bronx. And now, I am the principal of KIPP Raíces Academy. My mother and father both immigrated to this country. My mother finished sixth grade in Mexico, my father finished up to third grade in El Salvador. For them, this was a new opportunity, an opportunity for me and my sisters to receive a high-quality education, a better life. So, I really tried my best.

When I went to Stanford, I started to see, depending on where you live, depending on your socioeconomic background, you have different opportunities, and that impacts you later in life. TFA's mission is about all students receiving an excellent education. When I think of that mission, I think all means all, regardless of your zip code, regardless of your upbringing, regardless of your socioeconomic class. I knew as a corps member, why I was there. It was hard, but the mission drove me.

To be an alum for Teach For America means to be part of a larger collective of individuals who are still working on the same mission. Some of my TFA corps member friends continued in education. Some went to law school, some went to counseling, some moved into administration. Even though they might have left the classroom after two years, or four years, or five years, they're still connected to the larger mission of education. This mission is so important. So, as long as we continue spreading our message, and fuelling people to do more, our impact will continue growing.