Ministry Graduate Chosen to Serve with Teach For America

By her count, Palm Beach Atlantic University graduate Mary Roberts traveled to nine countries in a 14-month period with Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Campus Ministries.

Now the ministry major from Miami is embarking on a different type of journey, this time in her own back yard.

Recent Palm Beach Atlantic University graduate Mary Roberts has been accepted into the Teach For America program. PBA is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.
Recent Palm Beach Atlantic University graduate Mary Roberts has been accepted into the Teach For America program.

Roberts, a graduate of Coral Reef Senior High School, has been accepted into the Teach For America program and expects to begin work this fall in public schools in Miami-Dade County. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree in education and social change at the University of Miami.

“I really felt God’s calling,” said Roberts, who graduated from PBA in May. “I felt that my time here at PBA would be a time of preparation.”

Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding individuals of all academic disciplines to commit two years to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity.

The program seeks candidates from a variety of backgrounds who possess leadership potential. It employs a rigorous screening process that includes a series of interviews and other requirements.

Dr. Randy Richards, dean of the School of Ministry, describes Roberts as “a talented young woman who succeeds at whatever task to which she puts her hand,” he said.

“She loves children and challenges. Since she is also a wise and prudent planner, I was not surprised when she chose this assignment, nor was I at all surprised when she was selected. Mary will make PBA proud.”

Roberts said she looks forward to working with young people, something she often did on the mission field, and learning from them during her time in the classroom. “I feel like God is going to use it in a great way,” she said.

She considers herself a beneficiary of excellent teachers. In particular, she remembers looking up to one of her high school teachers, Renee Ilhardt, who taught Advanced Placement psychology. Roberts said she remembers thinking that if she were going to become a teacher, “I would definitely emulate her.”

During those high school years, Roberts said she learned about PBA at a college fair. She noticed that PBA students sought to make an impact through the University’s community service program, known as Workship, and through mission opportunities, Roberts said.

Not long after she arrived at PBA, her leadership abilities became evident. She ran her own business through Mary Kay cosmetics, becoming the youngest director in the nation and joining the ranks of the top 2 percent of the company.

Her sophomore year at PBA, she traveled to South Asia for what would become the first of many mission trips. She later joined PBA’s Mission Planning Team, a group of student leaders responsible for helping to train and prepare teams for global projects.

Last summer she was part of a five-member student team that went on an excursion known as the Africa Trek. The team spent three months traveling across six countries in southern Africa.

This spring, when she was invited to speak to the student body in chapel during senior week, Roberts reflected on that time in Africa.

“Every single moment of following the Lord, laying everything down, has been way worth any cost,” she told her classmates.

Roberts said she still hopes to do missions long term. As for the adventure ahead, “this seems like everything I could have desired after college,” she said.