15 Nov Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2008 Scholar Sydney Bay
Boettcher Scholar Year: 2008
College/Degree: University of Colorado at Boulder, B.A. Environmental Design, 2012; University of Colorado at Denver, M.A. Leadership for Educational Organizations, 2019
Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?
I got involved in educational equity work immediately after graduation. I wanted to address inequity through direct community advocacy. I joined Teach For America in 2012 in Detroit and absolutely loved it. I then joined Teach For America’s national recruitment team and have worked here for 6 years. I am now a managing director at TFA and manage our work in Colorado, Texas and Missouri in order to find incredible, diverse leaders who will dedicate their careers both inside and outside of the classroom to make sure that all kids have access to an excellent education. My favorite part is getting to develop incredible leaders who are making daily progress in disrupting systemic oppression.
What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?
Being a Boettcher Scholar has fundamentally changed my life, both financially and professionally. My family and I did not have the means to pay for college, and I would not have been able to attend CU and pursue the extracurricular activities I chose without the generosity of the Boettcher Foundation. Professionally, I have the career I do now solely because of the Boettcher Foundation and the Presidents Leadership Class at CU; through these groups I was able to develop my leadership skills and network, and gain experiences that helped me understand the systemic inequities in this country and identify that educational inequity is the most direct way we can disrupt those systems. My best friends, my colleagues, and my husband are Boettcher Scholars and I couldn’t possibly have my career, personal life, and accomplishments without this life-changing experience.
Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.
In college, I joined the Presidents Leadership Class in order to develop my local/global mindsets and skill sets and it was a critical part of my development. I also worked for Jane Goodall on an environmental publication for children and sought out a lot of student advocacy work through several organizations. Now, I volunteer for many different Teach For America alumni. Most recently, I served as the director of recruitment for Mike Johnston’s US Senate run representing the state of Colorado. I play competitive volleyball and love horror movies.
What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field?
My dad sat me down as a freshman in high school and told me that he wanted me to know that it was okay to go into any industry, to do any type of work I wanted to. That validation stuck with me. He reiterated the adage, “If you love what you’re doing, you won’t work a day in your life.” It’s something I think about every day because I love what I do, and I adore the students I get to work with.
If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?
I’m going to be basic and say that I would love to see Tana French, Sandra Oh, Michelle Obama and the totally-not-fictional Severus Snape interact at a dinner party.