IRT Alumni Panels – Engaging with Current Scholars

The continuation of the IRT Post Advising Season began on a high note in January when Leislie Godo-Solo ‘91, Education Programs Specialist, and Brittany Zorn ‘13 Arts and Sciences Programs Specialist, moderated the last of nine alumni panels held through-out the year this January. The panels are one part of the comprehensive advising program for current Scholars. They provide access and invaluable insight from alumni who share their journeys pursuing their Master’s and Ph.D. degrees.

The last two alumni panels in the series held in January are highlighted below.

Alumni Panel: Family Caretakers & Non-Traditional Applicants
Panelists: Judy-Ann DeRosier, IRT ’18, Dane Peters, IRT ‘20, Tracee Matthias, IRT ‘21 and Mariahadessa Tallie, IRT ‘17

IRT alumni took part in an informative conversation sharing a number of insightful revelations with current Scholars. These alumni touched upon a variety of topics including self-worth, lifestyle, and quality of graduate life, as well as issues of age. Some gems from the panel include:

“You are enough; you are someone of value.” 

“Don’t let age deter you, you have wisdom to disrupt and dismantle the issues with which our generation is struggling.” 

“If we are non-traditional students, we need to wrestle with our age and handle it” and we should remember that “Our age is an asset in these programs, set the tone.” 

Another important topic focused on personal internal battles. One alum stated, “So much of who I am battling is me, you can’t do that no one will accept you into a Ph.D. program.”  Another mentioned they learned to let go of negative thoughts because “What IRT does really well is tell you that you have worth, you do have something to contribute, and this research topic is a wonderful idea.”  

Alumni Panel: Current Graduate Students Share Their Stories
Panelists: Ain Ealey, Lorena Aviles Trujillo and Samantha Vasquez, all IRT ’21

Alumni discussed starting with the end goal in mind and why you should not push through the experience, having a strategy is important in reaching one’s goals. The panelists shared a wealth of tips that will benefit the current cohort as they begin graduate school this fall.

Ealey shared, “For me, IRT helped us become planners and apply that sense of planning to our life’s goals.”

Aviles Trujillo spoke about the importance of having a community that is supportive, “Whether taking part in Cohort Social Hours, What’sApp gatherings, or Group Meets, finding individuals who can support you in this process is key.” 

Samantha stated that she continues to nurture the mentor/mentee partnerships that she engaged as an IRT Scholar. She is developing partnerships with several colleagues at her university who could assist her in her goal of becoming a student affairs professional.

Are you an IRT Alum and Interested in Engaging with IRT?

Interested in participating in a future alumni panel or in any of the alumni roles listed below? Please reach out to Leislie Godo-Solo or Brittany Zorn.

  • Alumni Recruiter – In this role, you would host an IRT information session on your campus talking to students about the IRT and your experience with the program. 
  •  IRT Blog – We are always looking for contributed content and welcome alumni news, educational and professional perspectives, alumni book reviews, etc.
  • Be a Reference – Refer students you are working with that are interested in pursuing a Master’s or Ph.D. degree that you think would benefit from the program.
  • Letters of Recommendation – As an alum, a written letters of recommendation for a potential applicant is a way to get involved.
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP) Advisor – Participate in the SOP process with a group of students in the current cohort.
  • IRT Advisory Board – consider applying to serve as a member.
  • IRT Alumni Committee – serve as a member.
  • Summer Workshop 2023 – Apply to teach at the upcoming workshop.
  • Host a get-together or reception – volunteer to host a small alumni gathering.
  • Share your IRT experience – Talk with prospective applicants and current Scholars about your experience as a graduate student or as a professor.
  • Donate – a monetary donation of any amount is always welcome.


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