As we head into July, the IRT virtual Summer Workshop Faculty and staff are busy finalizing curriculum, organizing alumni and professional panels, consortium liaison meetings and other events throughout the upcoming month. Join us in welcoming this year’s summer faculty!
Renée Wilmot, IRT ’12, ’17
My name is Renée Wilmot, I use she/her pronouns. Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University in the Teacher Education program. My research interests include (1) the historical legacy of Black women as educators and activists in the Black community and (2) Black girls’ practices of thriving and resisting in white supremacist schooling structures. I am originally from Virginia and I am a former secondary English/Language Arts teacher.
Advice for the current cohort
Do your best to commit 100% of yourself. Take advantage of this opportunity – take risks and push yourself.
- Ebony & Ivy by Craig Steven Wilder
- White Architects of Black Education by William H. Watkins
- White Rage by Carol Anderson
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- Black Feminism in Qualitative Inquiry by Venus E. Evans-Winters
My biggest takeaway from my IRT experience was that this is a safe space for me to push myself, risk failure, and then get up to try again. I had never been in a space where I could “mess up” academically, experiment with time management and reading strategies, and take risks.
My grounding quote for this year: “We protect and nurture our collective well-being. We strive to make our home place a positive environment for everyone. We all agree that integrity and care enhance all our lives.” (hooks, ,p. 101)
My current favorite song: “Dim All the Lights” by Donna Summer
Ryan Sermon, IRT ’10
A member of the university partnerships leadership team at Southern New Hampshire University, Ryan Sermon lives in Tucson, Arizona and directs community college and corporate partnerships across ten states. In his current role he collaborates with others to seek synergies and partnerships between workforce development and degree seeking programs. Prior to this role, he worked at Pima Community College on the external relations team and taught TRIO Upward Bound student success courses to college bound high school students. Mr. Sermon’s experience with career services stems from managing a career program at Cochise College; advising post-doctoral fellows and graduate students with an emphasis on non-academic careers at the University of Arizona; and working as the state Site Lead on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS) Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Mr. Sermon holds a B.A. in sociology from Wheaton College and an M.A. in higher education from the University of Arizona, where he is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education with an emphasis on college access, equity and sociology.
The (IRT) network is so wide and in places where you might not think at first. Be open to the opportunities that will be presented to you as a graduate student. Lastly, give it time – it can take more than one semester for you to find your network of support.Ryan Sermon
Below are three articles that I’ve written when I was providing one-on-one career related development resources to post-doc fellows and grad students:
“5 Ways To Be An Entrepreneur As A Job Seeker” Graduate Center Newsletter Retrieved: https://gradcenter.arizona.edu/articles/2021/03/5-ways-be-entrepreneur-job-seeker
“7 Reflection Questions to Inform Your Career Goals” Graduate Center Newsletter. Retrieved: https://gradcenter.arizona.edu/articles/2020/12/7-reflection-questions-inform-your-career-goals
“4 Ways to Evaluate Fit and Company Culture” Graduate Center Newsletter. Retrieved: https://gradcenter.arizona.edu/articles/2020/10/4-ways-evaluate-fit-and-company-culture
- Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges In The New Economy by Tressie McMillan Cottom
- The Power of Privilege: Yale and America’s Elite Colleges by Joseph A. Soares
- Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through The Changing World of Work by Lindsey Pollak
- The College Fear Factor: How Students and Professors Misunderstand One Another by Rebecca D. Cox
Juliana (JuJu) Wong, IRT ’15
Juliana (Juju) Wong, M.Ed. is a bicoastal edupreneur (educator + entrepreneur) based in Ohlone & Lenapehoking land – San Francisco and New York City. She was born and raised in the Bay Area, received a B.A. in Communications at UC San Diego, and completed her M.Ed. in Student Affairs at the University of Maryland, College Park.
With 10+ years of experience in college access and persistence work for first-generation, BIPOC learners, Juju is a DEI strategist that integrates her ethnic studies and equity lens to build curriculum and programs that center the complexity of human experiences & emotions. Follow @ProfessorJuuj on Instagram and TikTok!
As a first-generation college student, Asian American womxn, and daughter of working class immigrants, IRT has provided me a platform to amplify my intellectual and personal voice in a field that continues to invisibilize the diverse experiences and needs of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) community in discourse, scholarship, and practice. IRT sees me, affirms me, and empowers me to show up authentically so that our students can do the same, too.JuJu Wong
Advice for the current cohort
Be honest about your goals and intentions when going through the graduate school process. Honor what your wants and needs are so that you stay grounded in your purpose throughout the ups and downs of your journey.
- Dr. Tara Yosso’s theory of “community cultural wealth” is a foundational framework that informs my pedagogy and praxis. Not only is it a useful theoretical approach to higher education research and scholarship, but I love using it as an empowerment tool when working directly with students. Our stories and the stories of our families and ancestors are our power.
- Yosso, T. J. (2014). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. In Critical race theory in education (pp. 181-204). Routledge.
Atiya McGhee, IRT ’13
Atiya McGhee (they/them/theirs) is a doctoral student in Cultural Foundations of Education. Their current research interests include Black (a)gender and (a)sexualities, social justice education, feminist methodologies, and dialogic pedagogies. Prior to Syracuse, Atiya worked in Residential Life at various higher education institutions for several years. Atiya holds a M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (‘16) from the University of Vermont, and a B.A in Creative Writing and Literature from Wheaton College in Massachusetts (‘14). Outside of academia, Atiya spends a lot of time reading fanfiction, listening to K-pop, and watching anime.
Advice for the current cohort
Spend every day with at least 15-30 minutes dedicated to writing, reading, and journaling. You will thank yourself later!
Learning how to learn and learn from others is skill not everyone is equipped with. From my experience this is a common skillset all IRT alum leave the program with, and it only works to serve you as a person and a critical scholar.
Write a mantra that will help you remember you end goal and get you through your tough days. One of mine is: Inhale, Exhale, Now Go and Do What You Know You Need to Do About It.
I spent most of my time listening to podcast and reading blogs by black graduate students. Highly recommend https://blackgirldoesgradschool.com/
Yanil de la Rosa Walcott, IRT ’19
Yanil De La Rosa-Walcott, Doctoral Student, Teaching, Learning, Teacher Education Ed.D., Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Yanil De La Rosa-Walcott is a first-generation, Afro-Dominicana from the Bronx, New York, currently earning a Doctorate of Education in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She currently serves as a Research Assistant for Catalyst and the Collaboratory for Teacher Education at the Graduate School of Education where she studies students of color’s access and perseverance through STEM curricula in urban settings and retention of teachers in the field.
“Every place has a climate- be a thermostat.”Yanil De La Rosa Walcott
Prior to doctoral study, Yanil previously earned her Master’s in Mathematics from Montclair State University, and her Bachelor’s in Mathematics from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Yanil began her journey in the field of education as a Data Analyst for the New York City Department of Education where she supported the hiring of 8,000 certified teachers. As a Project Associate for the Research Foundation of the City University of New York (CUNY), she designed STEM programming for middle schools of the Bronx. She later joined William Paterson University as a Learning Services Coordinator and Bank Street College of Education as a Mathematics Instructor and Curriculum Developer for the Liberty LEADS Program to implement robust STEM summer programs. Most recently, she served as the Director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Tutorial Laboratory at Bronx Community College of CUNY, where she taught Statistics and was honored with two Presidential grants to increase mathematics literacy, retention, and deliver quality programs of instruction to her community. She currently serves as a Mathematics Lead Teacher for the Liberty LEADS’ Summer Program and a STEM Success Summer Coordinator at Bronx Community College of CUNY.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage
Advice for the current cohort
Attend where you are celebrated, not just accepted. Do not chase, attract.
Heather Moore Roberson, IRT ’07, ’10
Dr. Roberson is the Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Allegheny College. Roberson is a multi-year curriculum coordinator for the IRT Summer Workshop. She holds a Ph.D. and a M.A. in American Studies from Purdue University.