by Brittany Zorn, IRT ‘13
IRT Arts and Sciences Programs Specialist
Once again, I had the honor of attending the Annual IRT Alumni Holiday Dinner hosted by the Office of Graduate Diversity & Inclusion (OGDI) at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) on December 3, 2019. This was the third annual dinner organized by OGDI and my second time in attendance, and each year the event has gotten bigger and better! I was proud to observe that IRT alumni from all stages of their graduate school journeys attended: Xahn Tran, IRT ‘17, Arman Liwanag, IRT ‘17, and Dominique Young, IRT ‘15, all current UMD graduate students, made an appearance. Current IRT student and UMD applicant Frangy Pozo, IRT ’19 brought her parents with her to the dinner, which made for a delightful contribution to the feeling that we were all dining with family. However, the greatest treat, for me personally, was getting the chance to reconnect with three of my own IRT cohort mates, Sharon Edwards, IRT ‘13, Amber Montgomery, IRT ‘13, and Kathy Vu IRT ‘13, who have all earned their Master’s degrees and entered the workforce. Surrounded by IRT alum who are all at different phases in their professional/graduate school journeys, reconnecting with former advisees and fellow Summer Interns from my IRT class, and meeting IRT friends, family, and peers was genuine soul food.
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. 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.
The IRT opened it’s 29th Summer Workshop program this July. Welcoming members of the 2019 cohort, more than 30 IRT alumni and IRT consortium deans and representatives, the workshop was an engaging experience for all constituents.
“Being an IRT intern in Andover this summer gave me life. IRT gave me life because it put me an intellectually stimulating environment that challenged me not only to grow as an academic but as a person. The challenges that IRT presented me with pushed me to see my full potential. I am forever in debt to IRT for giving me life.”
2019 Recruiter’s Weekend Students gleamed insight on consortium school’s program offerings as they begin to navigate the process and develop their application materials. Throughout the weekend, IRT students had the opportunity to make valuable connections with deans and liaisons and establish relationships with each other.
The IRT is excited to announce the development of an online IRT alumni network planned to launch later this fall. We have collaborated with Almabase to create this new initiative providing an online network to help IRT alumni connect with each other and with the IRT. We hope it will be used and a resource for news, professional and mentoring opportunities, and much more. Stay tuned for details on the launch of this exciting new IRT initiative!
“We are thrilled that the IRT will be able to provide a platform where our current students and alumni can connect around research, professional development, and mentorship.”
Kate Slater, Associate Director & Manager of Programs, IRT