The power of a cohort

I recently recalled my summer of excitement and anxiousness before the first day of grad school. These mixed feelings prompted me to ask my sister for the best piece of advice she could offer based on her own experiences. She emphasized that one of the greatest values of grad school for her was finding a supportive group of cohorts whom she could lean on and vice versa. When this program challenged me in more ways than one last year—I found a community of support who inspired and challenged me to become a better person, student and professional than when I arrived. Since then, I’ve developed strong bonds with my cohorts and reflected on ways their presence has increased the value of my graduate school experience.

Graduate cohorts encourage the development of positive professional relationships. I don’t expect us all to become best friends and hold hands, but everyday we are learning to accept and celebrate our differences. I’ve found that one (among many) of the valuable results of a healthy cohort relationship is shared teaching and learning. Learning through teaching has helped us strengthen our overall knowledge base. We are also continuously acquiring skills (such as conflict management) that ultimately help us build mutual respect and productive working relationships.

As I took the survey that is researching the support of Track III students—I realized that one piece of advice I would give to incoming students is to develop peer support and even look to supportive networks beyond immediate graduate cohorts. Fostering these networks has empowered and sustained my own educational journey so far. Through the sharing of knowledge and experiences, graduate students challenge and inspire each other to develop collective resilience.