Perseverance Pays Off

L. Virginia Martinez, IRT ’21

I will preface by saying that this is my experience and my journey, and everyone will have their own set of challenges and good and bad moments. While this journey was very long and often resulted in many tears, it was one of my most rewarding journeys. I joined IRT during my first gap year while an AmeriCorps Fellow. If I didn’t join in 2021, my gap year might extend more than two years.

My Journey

After my service year ended in July, I applied for my first “big girl job’, and I got it. While I thought this would be the most exciting time of my career, I was sadly mistaken. There is a long list of things that were red flags, even from my first day there. I had a weird feeling in my stomach on my first day, but I figured it was jitters, the rainy weather, or a mix of anxiety and excitement to have my first real job. Months later, I realized my instincts were trying to warn me. Shortly after I started, I was miserable, overworked, underrepresented, and depressed. I didn’t have much support at the job, except for three co-workers who I still communicate with. (Spoiler: I left after three months). I couldn’t take any PTO until my third month working there —I had to bill a certain number of units per week, I drove over 2k miles in my short time there, and I was frequently vocal about the lack of diversity in the organization and how my position as one of the few women of color there affected me.

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Giving Day – March 30, 2022

The IRT is fueled by philanthropy and we are deeply grateful for the community of donors who make this work possible. For the past several years, PA Giving Day has served as an exciting and powerful day for the IRT, last year galvanizing over 110 program donors during the event. Again this year, several generous Andover and IRT alumni are offering match funds to inspire support. Every one of the first 85 gifts to the program that day, regardless of size, will be matched with a $1,000 gift, unlocking up to $85,000 in funds for IRT!

Please help us to ensure incredible success on Giving Day – running from 9am EDT on March 30th to 12pm EDT on March 31st. To participate, please visit this site and select “IRT” from the drop-down menu. (Early gifts are welcome!)

IRT introduced me to a community of scholar-colleagues who have grounded the doctoral program application process in humanity.  By this I mean that I have been prompted to formally & informally consider the significance of my work outside the context of admissions. These iterative reflections are the footing that has made it possible to reach for the next anchor point with resolve. My cohort has been a source of strength & inspiration. And my SOP advisor, Dr. Stephanie Flores-Koulish, encouraged me to consider that the scholarship I will produce will do the same for others in turn. IRT has affirmed my conviction that people–not institutions–will always be the fonts of change.  

Ed’d Luna Bhagwandeen, IRT ’21

All Cohort Meeting

Brittany Zorn, IRT’ 13
Arts & Sciences Specialist, IRT

Since the inception of IRT’s Associate Program, we have been dabbling in the realm of cultivating virtual community, but it is perhaps no surprise that living with this pandemic for the last two years has fast-tracked the development of our best practices for engaging with IRT Scholars remotely. Because we decided against hosting a physical Summer Workshop in 2020 and 2021, we were suddenly tasked with replicating the natural community and connection that Recruiter’s Weekend offered the cohort in a completely online setting. Since the start of widespread work-from-home policies, we have incorporated more regular virtual touch points for Scholars throughout their IRT participation, including the implementation of three All Cohort Meetings (ACM), almost monthly Social Hours, triple the number of alumni panels and workshops, and more frequent required meetings with IRT Advisors, all carried out via Zoom. We have already seen the positive impact ACMs and Social Hours have had on the 2021 Cohort; these meetings have provided a communal space for IRT scholars to talk through the challenges of applying to graduate school as people with multiple historically marginalized identities, to commiserate over the uncertainty that comes with pursuing a graduate degree during an unprecedented global health crisis, to share strategies for managing their time, their stress, and their health with each other, and to lend a supportive ear or a cathartic chuckle as a collective.

This photo is a snapshot from ACM2, which we held on January 12th, demonstrating a moment of collective joy being shared towards the end of the discussion about preparing for campus visit and interviews.
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2022 IRT Cohort Application

The IRT application is open and accessible to all prospective applicants. Application requirements, dates and recordings of the online webinar series “Demystifying IRT’s Admissions Process” are located on the IRT website.  IRT staff will focus on specific IRT application components and provide clarity on questions. We encourage students to take advantage of these webinars. 

The IRT application will close on March 1, 2022. There will be no exceptions or extensions granted.

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Alumni Advisors Contribute to 2021 Cohort Success


by Brittany Zorn, IRT ’13, Arts and Sciences Specialist, IRT

One of IRT’s greatest assets is by far our expansive network of alumni. Since joining the IRT team in 2016, I have had the pleasure of meeting, celebrating, and working alongside so many incredible scholars, educators, leaders, and artists through the IRT alumni family. Engaging with alumni on social media, alumni who serve as Summer Faculty for our Summer Workshop, alumni who sit on the Advisory Board, and alumni who reach back out to the program for one reason or another has always been an enriching part of my experience as a staff-member-who-is-also-an-alum. In 2021, I had the opportunity to work with our alumni in a new way, through the External SOP Advisor role. We sent out an invitation to serve as an SOP Advisor in our blog, on the IRT Alumni Network, and on social media (FB, IG), and I was heartened to say we received responses from more than two dozen alumni with an interest in the role!

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