“I’d like to be remembered as someone who made a difference in the lives of young people – that I nurtured someone and taught them to pursue their dreams and their careers, to leave a legacy.” – André Leon Talley
As I sat, waiting for the clock to get out of 2021, I was even more aware of the things I hold dear. For the last two or so years, I’ve written to you in my home office, just my dog and me. As much as I love Basil, she responds to the changing world in her way. She didn’t understand the gasps for Betty White, Sidney Poitier, bell hooks, Thich Nhat Hanh, Lani Guinier, or André Leon Talley. And so, I hope for our first newsletter – you will indulge me.
Teaching during the pandemic has not been an easy feat. With more demands than ever, educators have had to face challenges like never before.
As I write this article, I cannot help but think about all the planning, grading, calls, make-up work, data analysis, meetings, etc. I need to prepare for the upcoming week. The immense expectations placed on teachers has left many, including myself, overwhelmed and disillusioned. However, my students deserve the absolute best, and so I show up every day and give it my 110%. As I reflect on how I am surviving this school year, I am reminded about the importance of making sure I am filling my cup in some way every day. While I understand the structural educational inequities that currently exist need to be transformed in order to ensure teacher sustainability long-term, finding ways on a day to day basis to help me stay afloat are just as critical.
My name is Jasmine Ma, and I am from Montréal, Canada. I am an 11th grader at Phillips Academy, and I currently serve on the student advisory board for the IRT. Growing up, my family moved around a lot, so I have encountered many different learning communities with various degrees of diversity. Reflecting on those experiences made me recognize the vitality of diversity in shaping the way that I think and live, and this is why I wanted to contribute to the IRT’s mission. At the IRT, I am currently working on increasing the presence and awareness of the IRT across the Phillips Academy community and creating potential collaborations between the IRT and the centers for research at Phillips Academy. I am also an avid flute player and I love reading philosophy.
Brittany Zorn, IRT’ 13 Arts & Sciences Specialist, IRT
Since the inception of IRT’s Associate Program, we have been dabbling in the realm of cultivating virtual community, but it is perhaps no surprise that living with this pandemic for the last two years has fast-tracked the development of our best practices for engaging with IRT Scholars remotely. Because we decided against hosting a physical Summer Workshop in 2020 and 2021, we were suddenly tasked with replicating the natural community and connection that Recruiter’s Weekend offered the cohort in a completely online setting. Since the start of widespread work-from-home policies, we have incorporated more regular virtual touch points for Scholars throughout their IRT participation, including the implementation of three All Cohort Meetings (ACM), almost monthly Social Hours, triple the number of alumni panels and workshops, and more frequent required meetings with IRT Advisors, all carried out via Zoom. We have already seen the positive impact ACMs and Social Hours have had on the 2021 Cohort; these meetings have provided a communal space for IRT scholars to talk through the challenges of applying to graduate school as people with multiple historically marginalized identities, to commiserate over the uncertainty that comes with pursuing a graduate degree during an unprecedented global health crisis, to share strategies for managing their time, their stress, and their health with each other, and to lend a supportive ear or a cathartic chuckle as a collective.
The IRT application is open and accessible to all prospective applicants. Application requirements, dates and recordings of the online webinar series “Demystifying IRT’s Admissions Process” are located on the IRT website. IRT staff will focus on specific IRT application components and provide clarity on questions. We encourage students to take advantage of these webinars.
The IRT application will close on March 1, 2022. There will be no exceptions or extensions granted.