Aaran Patel in front of classroom holding board in his hands.

Majors: History and Politics
Profession: Teacher, Teach For India, Bombay
Hometown: Bombay, India

What are you doing now?

I am a Teach For India fellow working with 45 third graders in a government school in Bombay. In addition to teaching my students literacy, I also guide them with the values and mindsets, and exposure and access required for them to be conscious, thoughtful and empathetic future citizens of India and the world.

How did you get there?

I knew that after graduating from Pomona, I wanted a challenging first job in which I'd be fighting for what I believe in each day. Whenever I'd return home to Bombay on breaks from college, I had new-found appreciation for many aspects of life in India as well as newfound frustration with many of the country's problems. I was clear that I wanted to use my Pomona education to work towards changes at the grassroots level. In the summer before my senior year, I visited a few Teach For India classrooms and realized that the organization's values aligned with my own, and that I could see myself teaching and learning from young students for a couple of years. After applying to the fellowship, I remember sitting in the Frank Blue Room on a senior spring evening, and hearing an evocative call to action from Susan McWilliams, a politics professor who I am lucky to have as a mentor and friend. She said that with a Pomona education, as alumni, we should seek to go into the world, earn our privilege and be guided by the words on our college gates: "They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind." In that moment, I resolved that if accepted, I would do the Teach For India fellowship.

How did Pomona prepare you?

The inspiring professors, peers, friends and mentors I had at Pomona have shaped much of the work I am doing right now and hope to do in the future. From orientation activities to stimulating classes to dorm-room conversations, I discovered that a commitment to service, social justice and equality is part of the ethos of the college. I feel grateful for the many opportunities I had at Pomona to delve into research about the history and society of my own country and people, and through those to develop clarity about my own identity and the work I'd like to do.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

After five years, I see myself working in education consulting and advising the Indian government, NGOs and schools on policy, curriculum and content to make learning more centered around children in order to make them problem-solvers and change-makers.

Any advice for prospective or current students?

Have as many meals as possible on the Frank patio. Spend a weekend evening driving up Mt. Baldy or visiting one of LA's amazing museums. Immerse yourself in the academic, interdisciplinary and extra-curricular opportunities that Pomona offers ranging from taking courses in departments out of your comfort zone to using the Outdoor Education Center to go camping to getting a SURP to research something you think is fascinating/could change the world. Make the best use of chances to develop friendships with professors who are incredibly accessible, approachable and helpful.