Ugorji is in his first year teaching AP Computer Science at Friendship Collegiate Academy public charter school in Northeast Washington, where the 23-year-old graduated just six years ago.
How did you end up as a teacher at Friendship?
I was recruited by Microsoft's [Technology] Education and Literacy in Schools Program. The goal of that program is to expose computer science to high schools that don't offer that opportunity to students.
What made you want to return to teach at your old high school?
The idea of giving back is always something that I pride myself in... When the opportunity came, it just fell right into place. It was perfect.
Is it weird teaching students just a few years younger than you?
It's not weird. It's actually exciting. I really enjoy working with younger students. I would say that I'm pretty good at working with kids and motivating kids and getting them to stay focused. As far as my age, I think that helps out a lot because they can relate, they feel so comfortable with me and asking whatever. Especially in a topic like computer science where everything is so new, you want them to be comfortable and open to you with whatever question they have. I feel students relate better to younger [teachers], especially me being that I went to that school and I can tell them what it was like, and I can use my experience as a student to relate to them.
How do your students compare to you at that age?
Academically, most of these students have taken three or four AP [advanced placement] classes already. Compared to me, when I was in that situation, they feel a lot smarter. Computer science is pretty much like learning a new language -- new syntax, it's nothing like you've seen before in any other classes. When I look at them, they really inspire me sometimes.
-- Rachel Baye