Executive Letter, March 2022


As we move into warmer climates (hopefully), I cannot help but think about the summer right around the corner. Our office jokes that we understand our work in seasons. We have the fall admissions season, winter application season, spring matriculation, and summer learning seasons. After the grueling and lingering winter, we are ready to watch our students sow opportunities and are preparing for the heat of supporting students in the classroom.

I have had the pleasure to hear from our current IRT scholars (and alumni) about updates regarding their graduate school admissions process. We are proud of every IRT scholar that submitted applications, interviewed, and continued the process. We are incredibly proud of those that have received acceptances and are narrowing down their decisions. We are honored that those that did not receive admission expressed vulnerability in communicating with us and are keeping their head up.

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Perseverance Pays Off

L. Virginia Martinez, IRT ’21

I will preface by saying that this is my experience and my journey, and everyone will have their own set of challenges and good and bad moments. While this journey was very long and often resulted in many tears, it was one of my most rewarding journeys. I joined IRT during my first gap year while an AmeriCorps Fellow. If I didn’t join in 2021, my gap year might extend more than two years.

My Journey

After my service year ended in July, I applied for my first “big girl job’, and I got it. While I thought this would be the most exciting time of my career, I was sadly mistaken. There is a long list of things that were red flags, even from my first day there. I had a weird feeling in my stomach on my first day, but I figured it was jitters, the rainy weather, or a mix of anxiety and excitement to have my first real job. Months later, I realized my instincts were trying to warn me. Shortly after I started, I was miserable, overworked, underrepresented, and depressed. I didn’t have much support at the job, except for three co-workers who I still communicate with. (Spoiler: I left after three months). I couldn’t take any PTO until my third month working there —I had to bill a certain number of units per week, I drove over 2k miles in my short time there, and I was frequently vocal about the lack of diversity in the organization and how my position as one of the few women of color there affected me.

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Giving Day – March 30, 2022

The IRT is fueled by philanthropy and we are deeply grateful for the community of donors who make this work possible. For the past several years, PA Giving Day has served as an exciting and powerful day for the IRT, last year galvanizing over 110 program donors during the event. Again this year, several generous Andover and IRT alumni are offering match funds to inspire support. Every one of the first 85 gifts to the program that day, regardless of size, will be matched with a $1,000 gift, unlocking up to $85,000 in funds for IRT!

Please help us to ensure incredible success on Giving Day – running from 9am EDT on March 30th to 12pm EDT on March 31st. To participate, please visit this site and select “IRT” from the drop-down menu. (Early gifts are welcome!)

IRT introduced me to a community of scholar-colleagues who have grounded the doctoral program application process in humanity.  By this I mean that I have been prompted to formally & informally consider the significance of my work outside the context of admissions. These iterative reflections are the footing that has made it possible to reach for the next anchor point with resolve. My cohort has been a source of strength & inspiration. And my SOP advisor, Dr. Stephanie Flores-Koulish, encouraged me to consider that the scholarship I will produce will do the same for others in turn. IRT has affirmed my conviction that people–not institutions–will always be the fonts of change.  

Ed’d Luna Bhagwandeen, IRT ’21

Begin Your Degree in Full Swing

Advice from Kelicia Hollis, IRT ’11 for the Current IRT Cohort

It’s springtime, and flowers aren’t the only things budding. Likely, you too are abloom with the possibilities this fall presents you as you vet graduate school offers. You might be an undergraduate student going “straight through” to a master’s or doctoral degree, or reentering school after time spent caretaking or in the workforce. Whichever it may be, there are a few tips I’d like to impart to ensure you begin your degree in full swing.

As you navigate springtime, think about lovely spring colors such as pinks and lavenders and teals: T-E-A-L-S.

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Hanging by a Thread…

By Guadalupe Saldivar, IRT ’14

A colleague once asked me, “How do you do it? How do you manage it all?” She asked after I shared that I was in a Ph.D. program, a mother of a baby girl, and was working full-time. My answer was simple, “I compartmentalize each of my responsibilities”. However, this response felt dismissive and overly simplified. If she were to ask me again, I would have a more helpful answer.

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