On Tuesday, December 4, 2018, Leislie Godo-Solo, IRT education programs specialist, traveled to Brown University to conduct an IRT informational session for prospective students.
Later that evening, Leislie and Asabe Poloma, assistant dean for international students and associate director, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Office of the Dean of the College, organized a dinner for IRT alumni near Brown’s campus.
The University of Maryland Graduate School’s Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion (OGDI) welcomed IRT alumni to a special dinner this past December. Many thanks to Christopher Pérez, OGDI program director, for coordinating the event and providing the opportunity to extend networks and reconnect IRT alumni, faculty, staff, and other professionals.
Program highlights included two keynote addresses by IRT alumnae:
Brittany Zorn, IRT ’13
M.Ed., Arts & Sciences Programs Specialist, Institute for Recruitment of Teachers
Brittany graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2013 with a B.A. degree in psychology and women’s studies and a minor in Africana studies. That same summer, Brittany participated in the IRT Summer Workshop as she prepared to pursue her master’s degree. In 2016, Brittany graduated from the University of Maine, earning an M.Ed. in student development in higher education. Leading up to graduation, Brittany learned of an opening at the IRT office and enthusiastically applied; the opportunity to help future generations of students successfully apply and matriculate into graduate programs on their paths to careers as educators was not one Brittany was willing to pass up. She eagerly accepted the role of arts & sciences programs specialist with the IRT in May 2016. A clip of Brittany’s speech is included below.
Congratulations to Aaron Benavidez, IRT ’11, one of the recipients of the 2018 Derek C. Bok Award.
The 2018 Derek C. Bok Award is given to five of the most outstanding teaching fellows, who have been nominated by their departments, throughout Harvard University and includes a monetary prize. Benavidez is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of sociology at Harvard University and an Inequality and Social Policy Doctoral Fellow.
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of California, San Diego
This fall I started my first year as a tenure track assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego. As I reflect back on my path, I am grateful for many things I learned through IRT. In addition to the obvious fee waivers and assistance with the application for graduate school, my participation in IRT taught me the enduring skill of creating a coherent narrative out of my broad interests and accomplishments.
I have taken a somewhat windy path to arrive at this point in my career. My exposure to IRT began with a presentation to my Mellon Mays cohort at Rice University. During my junior and senior year of college I was really unsure about what direction I wanted to take my future. I had started college as a Biochemistry major, interested in medical or pharmacy school, and changed my focus to medical anthropology after studying abroad in Chile during my junior year. In Chile I learned about Latin American socialism and redistributive justice. I had always been interested in issues of social justice, particularly racial and economic justice, and anthropology was a logical fit. The short span of time between discovering Anthropology and the deadlines for graduate school left me spinning with uncertainty, but excited about my very diverse research interests. I was torn between applying for Ph.D. programs and Master of Public Health programs, but in the end chose to pursue an MPH because I was unsure of what I would study in a Ph.D. However, shortly after starting my M.P.H. program, although I knew that I wanted to do work that would help alleviate or shed light on inequalities, it was clear to me that I wanted to pursue a more theoretical approach by way of a research career that was heavily ethnographic.
Once I was finally ready to apply for Ph.D. programs, I turned to IRT for guidance on the best way to frame my broad interests. How could I make my experience working in a drosophila lab, a volunteer trip to Haiti, and desire to better understand Marx into a story that made sense? It was through my experience with IRT that I first practiced the skill of building a narrative out of my broad range of interests and accomplishments. Although I still had not honed the skill of crafting a narrative in the short form of a cover letter and personal statement, I was able to connect my interests in social justice, structural violence and theoretical frameworks commonly used in anthropology. Later, once I was actually in graduate school I was able to merge my personal interest in food with my previous experiences and develop a dissertation project on food access in post-Soviet Cuba. Ultimately my doctoral work drew upon most of my previous work and both my scholarly and personal interests.
My graduate school applications were my first attempt to create a coherent narrative out of my previous experiences that made sense for a future research trajectory. What I did not realize then was that this skill of creating a narrative out of your experience is an enduring part of our work in academia; if the skill is well crafted it can be beneficial for many parts of academic life. Over the years, I would further hone my skills in crafting a story of my work in funding applications, in my proposal defense, and in postdoctoral and tenure track job applications. The craft of writing one page and two-page statements is a central element of academic life. I now see that this skill that I learned 10 years ago through IRT will be an essential asset as I move forward along the tenure track.
We are officially hiring IRT alumni for our Summer Workshop faculty! The 2019 IRT Summer Workshop will run from Friday, June 28, through Saturday, July 27. The deadline for applications is Friday, February 8.
A full description of the positions and program is included below. If you are interested in one of the faculty positions, please apply online.