Executive Letter, January 2022

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“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.

I’m aware of how critical it is for us to be in a community with each other. How central it is that we reach out to each other for care and support. I’m also focusing on the importance of how we tell and teach our stories – it is more urgent than ever before. Ongoing arguments regarding how we teach race in education or even who should teach our students are ever-present. We want IRT alumni to know that we are here to support you as you navigate your professional careers and to use the network for strength.

And so, I use the quote above to center us now. André Leon Talley initially thought he would be a French instructor; and found an opportunity to make fashion alive with his legacy. He encapsulates what so many of us hope for — an opportunity for our future generations to know freedom. We are focusing on our impact by assessing our mission and opportunities for growth. I want to personally thank all alumni who answered questions, emails, surveys, or shared their perspectives for the last few years.

Finally, as we hear back from IRT scholars regarding admissions offers and rejections, please know the IRT community supports you. If you have an opportunity, feel free to share information about the IRT with other prospective students. Finally, please keep us updated on any updates you have. We would love to share the bounty from our garden with others.

A special thank you to Brittany Zorn, IRT ’13 and Leislie Godo-Solo, IRT ’91 on their incredible work these past few months cultivating the IRT program and building an amazing sense of community through the unknown.

There are times when personal experience keeps us from reaching the mountain top and so we let it go because the weight of it is too heavy. And sometimes the mountain top is difficult to reach with all our resources, factual and confessional, so we are just there, collectively grasping, feeling the limitations of knowledge, longing together, yearning for a way to reach that highest point. Even this yearning is a way to know.”
bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress

Best,

LaShawnda

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