Alumni Spotlight: Rakeb Girma ’21

Introducing Rakeb Girma! Rakeb graduated from Denison in 2021 as an Educational Studies major with a Spanish minor. Rakeb is a first-year second grade teacher at the Dallas Independent School District in Texas. She will be receiving her Master of Science in Elementary Education this May from Johns Hopkins University.

At Denison, Rakeb was involved in the African Student Association, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., and as an Educational Studies Department Fellow. When she first came to Denison, she had no intentions of being a teacher or even being an Ed. Studies major. She first came to Denison as a Computer Science major with the expectation of becoming a software engineer upon graduation. After her first semester, she quickly realized that that was not the right path for her. Taking Education 213 – “The U.S. Education System” with Dr. Graves was what Rakeb describes as a “critical moment” for her. Every week she was excited to go to class and learn about how education interacts with the history and contemporary issues in society. Following this class, she changed her major to Educational Studies and never looked back.

Rakeb believes that the education classes that she took with Dr. Graves and Dr. Nemeth contribute to the success she is having as a first-year teacher. In these courses, Rakeb learned about the different inequities she would see in the classroom. This knowledge taught her how to employ different strategies to help lessen the gaps she sees in her own classroom. She says that “their classes really helped strengthen and build my love for and of learning.”

Rakeb’s advice for first-year teachers is that she always felt like she was running around like a chicken with its head cut off since she never felt 100% prepared – and that’s okay! Rakeb says that “once you begin to see growth in your students as learners and young people, you will start to see the value in your effort and the impact you have made on them.” If you are interested in the educational field, Rakeb’s advice is to find summer jobs or internships that work with children, as it the best way to know if teaching is something you would enjoy!

If you want to learn more about Rakeb and her experiences with teaching, you can connect with her on LinkedIn!

By Grace Buller
Grace Buller Peer Career Coach and Peer Fellow: Nonprofit, Education and Government Career Community