Alumni Accolades – February 2021

~1991 Cohort~

Leislie Godo-Solo, IRT ’91
Leislie initiated a special project that made a huge difference to a number of IRT students this holiday season. She coordinated and purchased a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, hand wipes and a hand-written note complete with candy and organized other family members and friends to contribute items that were sent to IRT students around the world. Leislie is also the IRT Education Programs Specialist and we would like to thank her for her kindness and generosity. If you know of a student who may be in need, please contact the IRT.

According to Leislie, “this project came about because of a current IRT student who informed me that they were teaching a group of elementary students in person and she mentioned that the school was not providing any PPE to teachers. I was alarmed and believed that these materials are basic supplies. I shared my concern with my Daddy (I am a Daddy’s girl, lol!) and unbeknownst to me, my parents sent me a Nike shoe box full of cloth masks. A former Andover colleague heard me discussing the matter in an affinity group and texted me right on the spot to say that he wanted to send disposable masks to help in my cause; I was off and running. Providing PPE was such a small gesture and one that was easy enough to do. I am pleased that we have been able to assist IRT students in this concrete way.”  As a result of this project, Leislie’s motto in 2021 is “Onward and upward, doing what we can in our little part of the world!”

“I am very grateful for Leislie’s work. She was my IRT advisor. I admire her work. Also, I appreciate all the assistance of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) has provided to us. I feel honored I was selected to participate in the 2020-2021 IRT Associate Program in the field of Linguistics. This program impacted me positively. It could change my life. Especially thanks to Leislie Godo-Solo, Rachel Weissler, Monica Reum, Brittany Zorn, LaShawnda Brooks, Janelle Bonasera, Sara Cerretani, and thanks to all the alumni.” Zahaira Cruz Aponte, IRT  ’20

~1994, 1995, 1996 Cohort~

Two IRT Alumni Featured on New Books in African American Studies Podcasts

Sheldon George, IRT ’95
“Trauma and Race: A Lacanian Study of African American Racial Identity” (Baylor UP, 2016‪)‬ February 3, 2021
Sheldon is a professor and chair of the English department at Simmons College.


Tavia Nyong’o, IRT ’94/96
“Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life”
(NYU Press, 2028‪)‬ February 5, 2021
Tavia is Chair and Professor of American Studies, African American Studies, and Theater & Performance Studies at Yale University.

~2003 Cohort~
Dr. Chinua Akimaro Thelwell, IRT ’03
Chinua is an Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at William & Mary College and was interviewed in a Diverse article “Meet Dr. Chinua Akimaro Thelwell, an Interdisciplinary Scholar on Race and Place.” 


~2008 Cohort~

David Sterling Brown, IRT ’08
David interviewed on a Folger Library Shakespeare Unlimited podcast in which he discusses Titus Andronicus in relation to Black Lives Matter and theater. Dr. David Sterling Brown is a professor of English, General Literature and Rhetoric at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

~2010 Cohort~

Ana Almeyda-Cohen, IRT ’10, ’14
Ana received her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She has accepted a tenure track position of Assistant Professor of Spanish at Colby College. Ana also holds a master’s degree in Iberian and Latin American Cultures from Stanford University.

 ~2011 Cohort~

Elizabeth Gil, IRT ’11
Elizabeth co-authored a piece, “Humanizing practices in online learning communities during pandemics in the USA,” in the November 2020 issue of the Journal of Professional Capital and Community. Dr. Elizabeth Gil is an Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership, Administration & Policy at Fordham University.

~2014 Cohort~

Jomaira Salas Pujols, IRT ’14
Jomaira has joined the Sociology faculty at Bard College. She is a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University doctoral candidate studying race, Black girlhood, and education.


 ~2017 Cohort~

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, IRT ’17
Mariahadessa was awarded the Ezra Jack Keats Honor for writing and featured in the Providence Monthly for her children’s book Layla’s Happiness and why she chose to settle in Rhode Island


If you are an IRT alum and want to share your news, please let us know!








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