At Yale, Dora Guo found purpose in community

Dora Guo has always wanted to be a teacher. In pursuit of that goal at Yale, she built community relationships and gained a broader worldview.
Dora Guo (Photo by Daniel Havlat)

Dora Guo (Photo by Daniel Havlat)

Dora Guo ’23 has always wanted to be a teacher. Now, as she prepares for graduation, she’s surer than ever that a classroom is where she belongs.

This interest led her to Yale’s Education Studies program and to groups like the Anti-racist Teaching and Learning Collective, which collaborates with Connecticut students and educators on anti-bias pedagogy. She has also attended and organized a communities of practice group focused on education, in which local educators convene in their free time to discuss teaching strategies and approaches to discipline, care, and assessment.

I’ve gotten a lot out of my Education Studies classes,” Guo said, “but there’s nothing like being in the community with people who do this for a living.”

Dora Guo dancing with children at a park
Dora Guo dances with students from the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Service (IRIS) as part of CityStep Yale, a student group that teaches dance in New Haven.

During her four years at Yale, community has been the common thread. It’s what led her to her major in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. It’s what her dance group Rhythmic Blue became. And it guided how she selected which classes she would take.

When applying to courses, I created these little memos to myself explaining why I wanted a certain class,” said Guo. “Often it was because the class assessment wouldn’t be just an essay I’d give to the professor. It would require building something I created with someone outside of the class. I always wanted to make my education as public oriented as possible.”

Dora Guo with fellow students holding up education books
Eda Uzunlar, left, Alex Contreras Montesano, and Dora Guo present their senior capstones for the Yale Education Studies Scholars Program.

In one of those classes, Guo collaborated with an educator from Groton, Connecticut to develop an anti-racist classroom resource. In research outside of class, she also worked with the Poorvu Center’s Pedagogical Partners Program and the Anti-Eugenics Collective at Yale.

The thing I’ve loved most across everything I’ve done here is working with people face-to-face and building relationships,” she said. “Whether it was dance or research, as long as it was based in community, I felt a lot of purpose.”

After graduation, Guo will join the New York City Teaching Fellows and pursue a certificate in special education. Looking to the future, she hopes to get involved in local organizing.

Seeing the next class of admitted students arrive on the Yale campus for Bulldog Days a few weeks ago made Guo think about where she was four years ago.

I remember seeing the world in a much smaller way than I do now because Yale has provided me with a lot of avenues to meet people I never would have encountered otherwise,” she said.

I came in with my heart open, but I didn’t know what the next four years had in store. I’m grateful for all of it.”

And for those incoming students, Guo has some advice.

You don't have to do too much. You are valuable just as you are.”

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