IRT Alumni Mentor Phillips Academy’s Students of Color and Participate in MLK Workshop

by Leislie Godo-Solo, IRT ’91


Since November of 2020, Leislie Godo-Solo, IRT ’91 has served as one of the faculty advisors for the Af-Lat-Am Mentoring Program (AMP) at Phillips Academy which has a membership of 104 students of color.  Leislie, along with the input of six student coordinators creates and plans programming that benefits students’ personal and academic growth.  During the current academic year, Leislie and the coordinators hosted Ms. Warner and Mr. Coy of the Academic Skills Center who discussed study strategies and, more recently, during the MLK Jr. holiday weekend, IRT alumna, Kelicia Hollis Jessie ‘11 was invited by the organization and held a workshop titled AMP Mentoring Reset:  Going Back to Basics, an interactive session in which the mentors learned ways to be more intentional and effective in their interactions with their mentees.  Additionally, Aleena Kibria, one of IRT’s Student Advisory Board Leaders conducted a MLK Jr. Workshop titled “What Is a Bad Hair Day?  In this presentation, Aleena and her peers discussed how often students think about their hair, Eurocentric beauty standards, the politics of hair, hair discrimination, and legal efforts to rectify hair discrimination in schools and the workplace.  Aleena went a step further for her presentation and interviewed Phillips Academy and IRT students Kevin Pajaro-Mariñez, IRT’15 LaKisha Simmons, IRT ’02 and Elyx Desloover, IRT’ 21 about their feelings regarding their hair. Check out their discussion on YouTube.    

Congratulations Aleena on a dynamic and well-received MLK Workshop!

Alumni Profile: Kevin Pajaro-Mariñez, IRT ’15

Kevin Pajaro-Mariñez, IRT ’15 shares his journey with the IRT community in this interview with Brittany Zorn, IRT ’13, Arts and Sciences Programs Specialist, IRT

In an era when there is so much demand on our time, attention, and energy, nothing soothes the soul like returning to the simple pleasures life has to offer, like celebrating our community. Despite an endless and unprecedented amount of challenges this past year, there has also been an endless amount of accomplishments across the IRT alumni network. More broadly, there has also been an unprecedented amount of interest in issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in this country since the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmad Aubrey sparked a series of protests for racial justice last spring.

Continue reading “Alumni Profile: Kevin Pajaro-Mariñez, IRT ’15”

Alumni Accolades – April 2020

~2018 Cohort~

(L-R) Christopher Perez, Program Director, Office of Graduate Diversity & Inclusion at the University of Maryland and Briceno Bowrey, IRT ’18 currently in his first year of doctoral studies in History at the University of Maryland. #IamIRT

~2017 Cohort~

Mariahadesse Tallie, IRT ’17
Mariahadesse wrote her first children’s book entitled, “Layla’s Happiness,” published by Enchanted Lion Books. She is currently a Ph.D. student at Brown University.

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Alumni Accolades – April 2020”

Monthly Matters in Black History—Jessica Samuel, IRT ’15

monthly matters image

Teaching Beyond a Colonial American Blackness or The Costs of being Black and not really American in the Classroom

By Jessica Samuel, IRT 15
American & New England Studies Program
Boston University

One of the most fascinating (and disheartening) phenomenon I experienced as a first–year teacher in an urban public school was the way in which the Black students I taught assumed that because I was Black—in addition to being a woman, “foreign,” and young—I knew less than my white colleagues, even when those colleagues and I shared similar demographics across gender, age, educational background, and professional experience. Comments such as “she doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” “what the hell is she saying” or even, “she can’t teach” alerted me to the ways in which my identities had predetermined my capacity, and by extension, that of my students. It became increasingly clear to me that years of indoctrination had led my students to think the way they did about Black intelligence.

Even more than thinking intelligence was colored everything but Black (or Brown), my students had also learned that “American” was the most reliable and legitimate label from which to expect knowledge and skill. As an Afro-Caribbean U.S. Virgin Islander—whose relationship to Americanness is fraught—it had become clear to me that my students had inherited a white supremacist, imperialist, patriarchal framework for being in the world.[1] Who my students believed was most qualified to teach them was not simply about years of experience in the classroom but also about years of experience being American. How American I could be directly informed my students’ ability to respect me in the classroom. That I had a slight accent, was born in a place they’d never heard of, and happened to also be Black meant that I would have to work overtime to establish professional authority in my classroom.

Continue reading “Monthly Matters in Black History—Jessica Samuel, IRT ’15”

Viviana Cordero Garcia, IRT ’15 on Becoming a Social Justice Educator

Life in Color

I see most spaces I walk into in color first. I walk into classrooms, the supermarket, doctor offices and check for representation. I often count the number of Black and Brown folk in the room with me. I examine spaces thoroughly. I ask myself: What are the norms in this space? Have I dressed appropriately? Can I speak Spanish out loud? Do I have to enunciate? Will I have to use my “White English”?

These are some of the questions I was able to unpack and process throughout my master’s program at the University of Maryland College Park (UMD). The Higher Education, Student Affairs and International Education Policy (HESI) program not only challenged me to be more critical of our education systems, but also provided the foundation for my diversity, equity, and inclusion practice. At UMD and through my work at Partners in Print and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on campus, I found the language, read scholars of color, and embraced my social justice educator identity. With the help of my advisor, professors, colleagues-turned-friends, sister scholars, and my Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) network, I earned a degree that otherwise would not have been possible for me.

Continue reading “Viviana Cordero Garcia, IRT ’15 on Becoming a Social Justice Educator”