Welcome back to our school year! I hope the summer was relaxing and filled with rejuvenation.
Over the summer, the IRT continued to implement our virtual Summer Workshop and support our students via advising. The IRT staff is grateful to our faculty for their expertise, support, and mentorship. As we gear up for the fall, we look forward to our Scholars continuing their applications and gaining support from the IRT community.
This fall, I look forward to continuing to engage our community regarding our program, exploration activities, and student needs. As we continue to move forward, please continue to engage with us. This weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the Uncle Bobbies: bell hooks Symposium featuring IRT community members. It was an opportunity to think of how scholarship can transform our communities, concepts of love, and how we work within a radical tradition. I encourage you to share with us any online presentations, discussions, or research – we love to learn and stay connected to you.
At the beginning of my last year at Bowdoin College, I met with a staff member to discuss how I could apply for scholarships and fellowships of interest. As a Mellon Mays Fellow and anthropologist by training, I always knew I wanted to pursue research and teaching as a full-time career, and I hoped to conduct research ahead of applying to graduate school. This staff member glanced through my transcript and CV and, finally, declared that my GPA was not high enough, my extensive work experience was not particularly distinctive or exceptional, and my lack of language study at the time made me unqualified. This person said I was not a strong enough applicant for the opportunities I was interested in and suggested I craft applications for fellowships unaligned with my interests simply because they had much higher acceptance rates. I sat there dumbfounded, devastated, and began to check out of the conversation mentally. What was the purpose of me going through four years of undergraduate study if I was still unqualified to begin the pathway toward my desired career?
Although Brown v. Board of Education is known as a landmark ruling that outlawed segregation in schools, it also caused a sharp decline in the number of Black educators and altered the cultural perceptions of the teaching profession. This series, Legacies of Brown, seeks to examine the consequences of Brown’s aftermath and provide a historical context for the founding and mission of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers.
*In this article, “minority” refers to Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Alaska Native, and people of two or more races.
Julia Jordan-Zachery, IRT ‘91 Jordan-Zachery has assumed the role of Professor and Chair of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. The following books from Jordan-Zachery are available or will be available soon – Eat the Meat and Spit out the Bones (poetry from Main Street Rag); Erotic Testimonies: Black Women Daring to be Wild and Free (SUNY Press); Lavender Fields: Black Women Experiencing fear, agency and hope in the time of COVID-19 (Univ. of Arizona Press).
Dr. Samuel is an education equity expert. Her experience includes advising for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, consulting for the Commonwealth Corporation, and coaching for the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers. In addition to working with education organizations, she also provides 1:1 coaching and small group workshops for various education stakeholders.
Dr. Samuel recently spoke with Brittany Zorn, IRT ’13 on her work and experiences. The written transcription of their conversation, link to an audio copy and an introduction by Brittany is included below.
Introduction by Brittany Zorn, IRT ‘13
As an IRT alumna, I started my role as Arts & Sciences Programs Specialist for the IRT with a ton of enthusiasm and boundless energy. Early on in my career, I was tasked with incorporating more opportunities for current students to connect directly with alumni. One of the ways I sought to bring more alumni perspectives to our advising curriculum was through the curation of multiple alumni panels and alumni-lead talks during the Summer Workshop (this was, of course, pre-pandemic when in-person programming was still the universal standard.) As luck would have it, I was casually scrolling Facebook one day and came across a post by IRT alumna Jessica S. Samuel, IRT ’15 regarding some of the work she was doing at Boston University around self-care for BIPOC students at PWIs as a revolutionary and libratory act. I instantly identified Jessica’s work as addressing a gap in IRT’s advising curriculum that I was working to close; we wanted to facilitate more intentional conversations around wellness for our scholars, and Jessica clearly demonstrated some specialization in this area through her post. I reached out and invited her to lead IRT’s first ever Wellness Day keynote address in the 2017 IRT Summer Workshop, and this collaboration served as the starting point of our working relationship ever since.