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Student Profile - Getting Involved

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Student Profile- Waller2

Tara Waller came to Teachers College looking to make the most out of her experience, and in her position as the new Student Senate president, she's hoping to help the rest of her fellow students do the same.

Waller, who started a master's degree last year in TESOL (Teaching of English as a Second Language), threw herself not just into her classes, but into getting involved with her department and student government. "When I came here," she said, "I wanted to do everything."

In 1998, Waller and her boyfriend, Loren, moved to Japan in search of teaching opportunities. For the first few years, she felt unfulfilled with her career choices-first as an assistant English teacher that "didn't do very much," and later teaching educational Web design. It wasn't until she found a position as an ESL instructor at a private high school that she knew what she wanted to do. Eager to teach back home, Waller applied to TC. Soon after, she and Loren (now her husband) were moving to New York City.

Now, Waller has the zeal of a convert when it comes to the importance of getting involved. In Japan, she had felt a bit withdrawn from broader social circles, so she wanted to make her experience at TC about more than just her classwork. "It's so easy to just stay in your program," she says. "That's a shame, because everyone at Teachers College has a similar heart-they're here to serve."

She sees the Senate as a way to bring students together and give them a voice, but she feels it needs to raise its profile. "I want people to get to know how to use the Senate to make their experience better," she said. To that end, she's looking to hold regular Senate office hours and coffee chats throughout the semester.

After TC, Waller wants to teach ESL in U.S. high schools. She admits it will be very different from the Japanese system, but, as she says, "I like a challenge."

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