From Accounting Major to English Teacher

Accounting alum Richard Vong ’14 landed a job with a lot of stress and responsibility – but not the kind he was expecting when he first enrolled here at LeBow.

Vong just started his first full school year with the Teach for America program at William T. Tilden Middle School in West Philly, where he teaches English enrichment classes to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. His class is meant to supplement the students’ main English classes taught by their homeroom teachers and emphasizes reading comprehension and writing skills.

During his time at Drexel LeBow, Vong completed a co-op at KPMG and seriously considered a career with a big accounting firm. But a pair of experiences exposed him to things he had never considered before: teaching, and contributing his skills to help a nonprofit cause.

Vong served on the Dean’s Advisory Board, and through a fellow member he heard about the National Student Leadership Conference. He got involved with the organization and wound up spending a summer teaching business classes to high school students. He loved it.

Soon after that, he found himself enrolled in an undergraduate consulting class through LeBow’s Dornsife Office for Experiential Education. The class, taught by Linda Reilly, challenged students to create business plans for a nonprofit organization that creates living communities for people with autism.

These experiences led him to his epiphany: “The idea hit me that I could do something different with my business degree,” Vong says. “Many nonprofit organizations have a clear mission, but have room for improvement in terms of organizational structure. So I see a lot of potential in terms of the impact I could have.”

In teaching, “everyday is a new challenge,” Vong says. “Tilden is a tough school. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Teaching is not easy. But, I didn’t go into it thinking it would be easy.”

Vong raves about the support he gets from the Teach for America program and the administration at Tilden. The students he is clearly getting through to are the valuable payoff for his hard work.

In the long term, Vong plans to move into administration after gaining substantial experience as a teacher. He adds, “I would also love to teach business classes to high school students in the meantime, if that was an option.”

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