Maggie Murphy SC '11 is wasting no time in following her interests after graduation. Murphy's passion for education led her to apply to Teach for America (TFA), and she was accepted into next year's Corps. It's certainly not a low-pressure job and will push her into the real world very quickly: She is set to teach low-income elementary school students in Detroit, one of the highest-need cities in the nation.
“I saw TFA as a way to quickly get involved with education post-graduation. It will definitely put me in the trenches of education very, very quickly,” Murphy said.
In general, the Claremont Colleges have a great track record with TFA. This year, one in five Scripps seniors applied for TFA positions, and at least seven Scripps seniors are currently slated to become part of the program after graduation.
However, Murphy said she is still deciding whether to defer the TFA position for one year in favor of an administrative job at the White House, where she would continue the same kind of work she did during her internship in Washington, D.C. the fall of her junior year.
Murphy's passion for politics and education have intertwined over the course of her four years at Scripps. As a Politics and International Relations major, she lets her political knowledge and skills inform her views on education reform.
Murphy, who is from Illinois, was also heavily involved with PresidentObama's 2008 campaign. After he came to speak in her hometown while running as state senator in 2004, Murphy made it her mission to support his candidacy. In the 2008 election, she became the leader of the Claremont Collegess Obama campaign, one of the most active college chapters in the country. One thing led to another, she said, and eventually she ended up with an internship at the White House.
Her dedication to education reform came largely from her experiences growing up in a public school system. She saw that, too quickly, the high school system separated kids onto tracks based on factors other than academic ability. Addressing this disparity has become one of her main goals; in fact, her thesis is a case study of her high school and an analysis of how the administration can change their tracking to allow students more opportunities.
As far as long-term plans, Murphy knows that she sees herself doing community organizing, but in what form is still unclear. One of her major goals is to empower parents to become better advocates for children in school systems.
“I think the crutch of communities is schools,” Maggie says.
She may go to graduate school and get a Master’s in Public Affairs or Education. But her future work could also involve working with parents in a parent-advocacy group.
Regarding her upcoming departure from Scripps, Maggie has bittersweet feelings.
“I’m never going to live somewhere this beautiful again!” she said. “I’ve been so privileged to have spent four years at Scripps; the students are so special, and it’s so rare that you’re in a community like this.”
One thing does make it easier to part: the daunting task of her senior thesis. Perhaps it was created just to ease the pain of leaving, and make seniors yearn to be done!
“It is daunting that next year I will have to pay bills. It’s safe here and very easy to get accustomed to not having to do things like cook your own meals,” she said. “But at the same time, Scripps has prepared me well, and I’m excited to embark on these new challenges.”