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Teaching with a Purpose: Ole Miss Graduate to Teach for America

Ole Miss student Logan Daniel, 22, from Jacksonville, Florida will begin her work with Teach for America in the fall. Photo by Connor Heitzmann.

“Next year I’ll be doing Teach for America in Dallas-Fort Worth,” Logan Daniel, 22, from Jacksonville Florida said.
Arriving at Ole Miss four short years ago, Daniel said she had always had an idea about possibly doing Teach for America one day.
A nonprofit, teach for America involves many people with different backgrounds, races, religions and ethnicity coming together to do good for kids.
“In Jacksonville, they have all these different regions of high-needs areas,” Daniel said. “I knew a bunch of people who had gone away for college and went back to Jacksonville to do Teach for America and they loved it.”
This love of making a living while doing good is not a new trend.  In a 2010 article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, researchers found that, following the financial crisis of 2008, more graduates were ditching corporate jobs in retail and finance for public service positions.
As a student studying integrated marketing communications (IMC) at Ole Miss, Daniel admitted she had never taken an education class, so Teach for America seemed like an odd choice, according to some who know her best.
“I told my mom that I was going to do it and she was like, ‘No Logan, like don’t do it,’” Daniel laughed. “I said well, I’m just going to apply and see what happens.”
Though parents may not always agree, James M. Thomas, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ole Miss, said a job with a nonprofit is often a great start to a career.
“People who work for nonprofits have all kinds of motivations,” Thomas said. “Working for a nonprofit can provide all kinds of useful, practical knowledge that you can take with you and be successful in nearly any setting.”
Like any other business, nonprofits have a budget that must be balanced, but unlike other businesses, they depend upon philanthropy and grants to get by.
“You get a great deal of experience speaking to different community stakeholders, and writing to different funding agencies, in order to maintain financial stability,” Thomas said.


Daniel’s fiance is proud of his future wife’s determination to help others but knows there will be sacrifices involved.
“I’m a little nervous because I know it is going to be a lot,” Nolon Blaylock, 23, said. “It’s going to be a lot of time and a lot of emotional and physical stress since she will be starting teaching and continuing her education at the same time. But I know that she can do this.”
Blaylock, from Collierville, Tennessee, met Logan through the nonprofit, religious organization Young Life. The two plan to get married and move to Dallas where he will start his career with KPMG, a public accounting firm.
“At this point in our lives we both do need to be making money so that we can survive, and she understands that,” Blaylock said. “At the end of the day she is doing something that she is passionate about and that’s what matters.”
Daniel says her faith is what motivates her to give back and give up on a better paying job for now.
“If this is what it takes for me to be more dependent on Jesus than there’s no wrong answer to doing this. This is the right next step for my life. It’s going to be hard, but I know that it’s going to make me cling to Jesus more.”

Story contributed by Connor Heitzmann, cpheitzm@go.olemiss.edu.

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