Vandana Apte: Peer Leader to Join Teach for America


As a fourth-year student, Vandana is in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Honors Program, majoring in Biotechnology with a concentration in Bioscience Policy and Management, and minoring in Women's and Gender Studies. She is a General Chemistry Study Group Leader for the Learning Centers and a Presidential Scholar, currently working on her George H. Cook Honors Thesis, which focuses on the efficacy of organ donation policies.

Vandana became the Editor in Chief of the Rutgers Journal of Bioethics, writes bioethics-themed columns for the Daily Targum, and is an active member of the Bioethics Society. For her genetics research, she studied meiosis in fruit flies at the McKim Lab at the Waksman Institute for the last 3 years.

Interest in Teaching

Vandana has always been interested in teaching and hopes to become a science teacher and teach about the broader, societal implications of advancements in science. Two experiences at Rutgers have helped to develop her love for teaching. She has been a Chemistry Study Group Leader since the fall of her sophomore year and taught a Biotechnology First-Year Interest Group Seminar (FIGS) in her junior year. She said, “It was really the LA and Study Group program that got me interested in teaching, and I am really excited to be teaching full time when I graduate.”

Teach for America

When Vandana volunteered for Monster Mash, a safe alternative to trick-or-treating in New Brunswick, through Designer Genes (a club for Biotechnology majors), she helped children create candy molecules. She became more fully aware of educational inequality when a mother asked her, in broken English, to explain what a molecule was so she could explain it to her daughter. Vandana joined the EMPOWER program to mentor low-income, Hispanic high school students during her freshman year. Eventually, she applied to Teach for America, was accepted into the program, and will be teaching secondary science in Boston. She looks forward to continue her passion for teaching and addressing educational inequality after graduation. 

Advice to Students

“My advice to those who are interested in Teach for America or other similar programs would be to get involved in community service because this really can open your eyes to inequality, injustice, and a variety of different perspectives. I would also recommend getting teaching experience as much as possible, whether that be as a TA, as a learning assistant/study group leader, as a tutor, or as a FIGS instructor.”