Cabrina Kang ’13, 2nd grade teacher at DREAM Charter School in East Harlem, New York


Cabrina Kang graduated from Wellesley in 2013 with a major in English, and a minor in Economics. She’s currently a 2nd grade teacher at DREAM Charter School in East Harlem, New York — a position she landed through Teach for America (TFA). During her time at Wellesley, she was actively involved in the Tupelos, the Center for Work and Service as an intern, her church’s after-school program, and the Development lab at MIT. 

As a recent alum, how has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
My career now is definitely a result of my changing interests and passions I had at Wellesley. During my first year in college, I considered majoring in Political Science because I wanted to become a US ambassador, or become involved in policy. As I began to get my feet wet taking international relations courses, I found myself wanting to expand and gain a broader scope of what I could learn at Wellesley. I began to take English, Economics, and Peace and Justice classes to fill this need. During my junior year, I also enrolled in a development class at MIT, which ultimately changed the trajectory of what I wanted to do after graduation. Getting the opportunity to go to Cambodia and teach for a summer on a CWS Global Engagement Grant shaped further my desire to go into education. By senior year, I knew I wanted to enter into a career in international development, whether it was becoming a teacher, a researcher, or a consultant.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
Wellesley has taught me more about myself and has subsequently taught to choose my career wisely, but at the same time, not to be picky. I know that every working experience is a learning experience. But personally, I know that I need to be passionate and sincerely care about the work that I do. Wellesley taught me to care about justice, and to care about equality and thus, find a job that centers around justice.

What is a typical work day or work week like for you? 
A typical work day starts in the classroom.  I get to work at 7am, and teach from 8am to 4pm in the afternoon. After school, I either have professional development until 6pm, or stay until 5:30pm to grade, set up the classroom for the next day, or plan lessons for the following week. After work, I go to graduate school until 10pm, or have a softball game until 8pm.

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into education and/or TFA? 
I think the one piece of advice for those looking to become a teacher is to commit and be patient.  Commit to your students and commit to your own professional development. Take the time to reflect on your teaching style and your relationships with your students, and always look to seasoned teachers for feedback and advice. Teaching is the most challenging thing that I have done, hands down.  Everyday is a battle, both emotionally and physically. As a teacher, you internalize the students’ emotions, their family issues, and their academic progress. But being a teacher is the most rewarding thing too; there is always something that I am trying to improve and get better at.

For those looking to get into TFA, I would say to take what you hear from TFA with a grain of salt.  Every TFA experience is different; it depends on your school, your leadership team, and your graduate school. Wanting to make a difference is not a good enough reason to want to join TFA; it is intense and unforgiving and rightly so; you are impacting the lives of people who will eventually impact society and those around them. But, if you are sure that you want to go into the education sector, TFA is a great way to expose you immediately to the nitty gritty, and sometimes, unglamorous life of an educator. Although I am still deep in the throes of being a “first year” teacher, I would not trade my experience for anything.  If anything, TFA has taught me to be strong, to be critical and to be thankful.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
I wish that I had known to take advantage of exercise classes at Wellesley. This year, I have found myself paying to take Ballet and Pilates classes!

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
If I could come back and take one class at Wellesley, I would take either a sociology or philosophy class.