Rising Above Adversity, Penn Graduate Finds Calling as a Philadelphia Teacher

The journey for Dominiqué Bynoe-Sullivan to become a teacher has been challenging, from her home in Brooklyn to a high school in Harlem to the University of Pennsylvania.

At Penn, she initially focused on becoming a physician, pursuing a major in microbiology. But during her sophomore year she changed direction, working with faculty to choose a major in public health, with a minor in urban education.

“I loved it,” she says. “I realized I really wanted to be a teacher.”

Bynoe-Sullivan says explaining her decision to her mother was challenging, because in her family’s Caribbean heritage becoming a doctor is so prized. However, her mother, an immigrant from Trinidad who worked in retail and childcare, supported her choice. Her father, a sanitation worker, had died several years earlier.

In particular, Bynoe-Sullivan was excited by the opportunity to build on her own experiences to integrate education and community.

“A community school considers all of the children’s needs and includes health clinics,” says Bynoe-Sullivan. “There is an emphasis on social services, anything they think a child might need to live better and perform better in school.”

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