Alumni Accolades, September 2022

Julia Jordan-Zachery, IRT ‘91
Jordan-Zachery has assumed the role of Professor and Chair of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. The following books from Jordan-Zachery are available or will be available soon – Eat the Meat and Spit out the Bones (poetry from Main Street Rag); Erotic Testimonies: Black Women Daring to be Wild and Free (SUNY Press); Lavender Fields: Black Women Experiencing fear, agency and hope in the time of COVID-19 (Univ. of Arizona Press).

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An Interview with Dr. Jessica Samuel, IRT ’15 on Educational Equity

Dr. Samuel is an education equity expert. Her experience includes advising for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, consulting for the Commonwealth Corporation, and coaching for the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers. In addition to working with education organizations, she also provides 1:1 coaching and small group workshops for various education stakeholders.

Dr. Samuel recently spoke with Brittany Zorn, IRT ’13 on her work and experiences. The written transcription of their conversation, link to an audio copy and an introduction by Brittany is included below.

Introduction by Brittany Zorn, IRT ‘13

As an IRT alumna, I started my role as Arts & Sciences Programs Specialist for the IRT with a ton of enthusiasm and boundless energy. Early on in my career, I was tasked with incorporating more opportunities for current students to connect directly with alumni. One of the ways I sought to bring more alumni perspectives to our advising curriculum was through the curation of multiple alumni panels and alumni-lead talks during the Summer Workshop (this was, of course, pre-pandemic when in-person programming was still the universal standard.) As luck would have it, I was casually scrolling Facebook one day and came across a post by IRT alumna Jessica S. Samuel, IRT ’15 regarding some of the work she was doing at Boston University around self-care for BIPOC students at PWIs as a revolutionary and libratory act. I instantly identified Jessica’s work as addressing a gap in IRT’s advising curriculum that I was working to close; we wanted to facilitate more intentional conversations around wellness for our scholars, and Jessica clearly demonstrated some specialization in this area through her post. I reached out and invited her to lead IRT’s first ever Wellness Day keynote address in the 2017 IRT Summer Workshop, and this collaboration served as the starting point of our working relationship ever since. 

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2022 IRT Summer Workshop Faculty

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.

Suggested Reading

  • 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 

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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.

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