I used to think of networking as a “dirty” word that conveyed images of people wearing stiff suits, holding cocktails, and pretending to be someone they are not in order to get a job or secure money for a business deal. While this is still a pervasive image that comes to mind when I think about networking, the IRT has caused me to think about networking in much more applicable, authentic, and holistic way. This is because the IRT focuses on the authenticity of the network, not the false pretenses that come with hollow actions of networking.
The IRT network helped focus my educational studies and my career trajectory. It was an IRT alumna who informed me about the IRT when I was an undergraduate at UCLA unsure of how to approach graduate school. It was an IRT staff member who helped me narrow my studies in graduate school to focus on issues of access for vulnerable populations within higher education; and it was the IRT network of alumni I relied upon when preparing for my interview for my current job at Princeton University.
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to be able to rely on the IRT network and to give back to the IRT. As a graduate student at the University of Michigan I was connected to other IRT alumni and we gave one another support through difficult course work, comprehensive exams, and writing dissertations. I also represented University of Michigan at the IRT Recruiter’s Fair and begin to build a pipeline of connected IRT students at University of Michigan.
When I moved on to work at Villanova University I was able to spread knowledge about the IRT network by serving as an onsite recruiter hosting info sessions for students interested in careers in education. I wrote letters of recommendation for students who understood the value of the IRT network and were eager to become a part of a dynamic change-making network.
Now, in my new role as Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Princeton University, I am thrilled to be working at a consortium institution. Here, I can connect talented and ambitious undergraduate students to the IRT network and help graduate students leverage their IRT connections as they navigate graduate school and careers in education.
IRT alumni are everywhere. We are making changes big and small within the fabric of education, and every one of these changes have ripple effects. As you navigate the job market, consider moving from a public school to an independent school, or transition into an administrative role, remember the IRT network. We are here to support one another because we are certainly stronger together.
The IRT has intentionally constructed a group of educators who believe in the transformational power of education and the need to diversify and reform systems of education to become more inclusive. Members of the IRT network are dedicated to the difficult task of being a leader and a change maker in the individual lives of students, and within systems of education. We must continue to strengthen that network.
The IRT has helped me see that networking is simply relying on my network—my IRT people. It is not inauthentic, but rather, a strong and powerful group of people deeply connected to my beliefs. I encourage every person who has been touched by the IRT to both rely upon the IRT, and help to grow the IRT network in large and small ways. We have the power to connect IRT alumni to one another, highlight the good work of the IRT when articles lament the lack of diversity among our nation’s teachers, personally invite undergraduate students to apply to IRT, and help students navigate the graduate school application process. Lastly, give back financially and/or with your time. Small donations of time and money can compound to produce significant results.
It is by giving back that we deepen our identity as a collective of powerful educators who are making change. Thank you IRT.
Brighid Dwyer Bio
Brighid Dwyer, Ph.D. was recently named Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Princeton University. She is responsible for developing curricula and implementing training programs to enhance student learning on issues of diversity, inclusion and identity.
Prior to her position at Princeton, Brighid served as the Director for the Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR) and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education and Counseling and the Department of Communication at Villanova University. In this role she managed all aspects of the IGR Program including faculty development and the delivery of free-standing and sustained workshops to staff, faculty, and students that utilized dialogic pedagogy, and engaged concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2016 Dwyer was the recipient of the Pohlhaus-Stracciolini Award for Teaching Excellence.
From 2010 to 2013, Dwyer was an adjunct faculty member in the Public Service and Social Science Division at Delaware County Community College.
Dwyer is considered a national expert on Intergroup Dialogue. She consults with higher education institutions, K-12 schools, corporations, and non-profit organizations about how to incorporate Intergroup Dialogue into their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on the topics of intergroup dialogue, diversity and inclusion, leadership, and organizational identity at Minority-Serving Institutions.
Before entering higher education, Brighid had a career in athletics where she worked as an academic advisor, coach, and staff administrator at UCLA, University of Michigan, the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Presently, she is working with USA Swimming on their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and she is a curriculum developer and instructor for the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California.
Dwyer has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan.