MURPHY: Kopp rocks as senior speaker

Every year, colleges around the country strive to grab the most prominent graduation commencement speakers.

This year, the University of Michigan tops most people’s list. Instead of saying it right away, I will give you two clues: He’s the fakest Chicago White Sox fan in the country and he’s a socialist.

If you said Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, then you’re wrong. The answer is Barack Obama.

Other notable commencement speakers across the country are Meryl Streep at Barnard College, Michelle Obama at George Washington University (how do you spell a sarcastic farting noise you make when you don’t care about something?) and Lisa Kudrow will be speaking at her alma mater, Vassar College (wasn’t she the ugly “Friend”?). Alec Baldwin is giving the commencement speech at New York University. Well, that’s actually pretty awesome. Alec Baldwin is the man.

Sure, these names are sexy on paper, but they are not as sexy as our choice of commencement speaker, Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp.

Yea, that’s right, I said it. She’s a sexy lady.

I’m not just talking about the fact that she looks like the love child of Rachel McAdams and Sheryl Crow (two very sexy women). No, her sexiness stems from so much more than that.

Back in the day, success was defined by how much money you made out of college and the baller-ness of the job you got. Today, things work differently, thanks to Kopp.

Kopp proposed the creation of Teach for America for her senior thesis. She was convinced that many people in her generation wanted to do more with their lives and take on a significant responsibility after graduation.

Kopp started the prominent teaching program in 1990. The idea was to help eradicate educational inequality in less fortunate parts of the country. Needless to say, the program caught on and applying became very popular for graduating seniors.

During the first year, 500 men and women were recruited to teach in six low-income communities. In 2009, the Teach for America program had become so popular that a record 35,000 applications were received for 4,100 positions in more than 35 regions.

In 2010, that record was shattered when 46,000 applications were received.

Today, Teach for America has reached “baller” job status. These teaching positions aren’t highly paid. They aren’t at prestigious schools. The job isn’t glamorous.

Yet for some reason, the amount of applications received increases drastically each year.

Some people might argue Teach for America is so popular because college graduates can’t find jobs anywhere else. I say, who cares?

This all happened because Wendy Kopp wanted to make a difference. Since its inception, Teach for America members’ impact on student achievement is equal or greater to that of new teachers.

Sure, Barnard College gets to listen to Meryl Streep, a woman who’s been nominated for 16 Academy Awards.

Lisa Kudrow will maybe bring some of her old “Friends” writers and come up with some entertaining anecdotes. But what will those graduates actually learn about service?

For those of you who actually know who Kopp is, you have probably been looking forward to this for a long time.

I know there hasn’t been an uproar about our speaker, and for those of you who aren’t excited about Wendy Kopp as the 2010 commencement speaker, go into the ceremony with an open mind.

We get to listen to someone who is actually making a difference in the country, someone who is changing lives and someone who is making our country better. At the very least, that is a lot more than Michigan can say about its speaker.