Christian Martinez-Canchola '12 teaches bilingual elementary school in Dallas, Texas, as a Teach for America corps member.
My Kenyon family was instrumental to my success. An externship with alumna and CEO of Prep for Prep Aileen Hefferren '88 confirmed that I wanted to give back to my community through the power of education. I reached out to Teach for America corps member Tracy Menzel '09, who met me in Dallas and talked about the program for two hours. Her insight was invaluable in determining that the program's goals matched with mine. Another corps member, Alberto Solis '11, advised me throughout the nerve-wracking interview process. I practiced sample lessons with my close friend Ryan Motevalli-Oliner '12. My advisor, professor Ivonne García, and her husband went over numerous draft revisions of my application. She and professor Ric Sheffield wrote me strong letters of recommendation. I could not have put forward a strong application without them. The acceptance rate for first- and second-round Teach for America applications was only 8 percent the year I applied. Kenyon alumni, faculty, and students were absolutely essential to my success.
At Kenyon, I struggled to understand the disparity between my Mexican-American Dallas community—including high school-dropout rates, teenage pregnancies, and low educational aspirations—and the reality I saw around me on campus. My first-semester sociology course with professor Anna Sun gave me the tools to examine these issues critically in a broader historical and social context. The course thus not only opened my eyes but also my heart and mind. Since then, my Kenyon education has helped me understand the issues affecting marginalized and underrepresented groups and motivated me wholeheartedly to advocate for them. I am truly blessed and honored to have had the privilege of attending Kenyon. After all, my first language was Spanish. I thought an "essay" consisted of a paragraph in fourth grade. Now I'm an English major from Kenyon College. How cool is that?
As a first-generation college student raised in Texas my whole life, I never thought I would attend college in Ohio. I had no connection to the place. But a video of Kenyon, "On This Hilltop," changed all of that for me. I saw in Kenyon the promise of an unparalleled education that would open doors. Most of all, I saw Kenyon providing me the education unavailable in Dallas public schools. After an incredible interview in Dallas, I visited Kenyon through a travel grant to see for myself if the place was for real. Surprisingly, it was! I fell in love. Afterward, a generous financial aid package coupled with a Newman's Own Scholarship made attending Kenyon a financial reality for my family and me.