Cohort – It’s so much more than you may think!

One of the words commonly used in social work is cohort. While many think of a cohort as a unit, a troop, a regiment, or a group, I believe in social work it’s all that and so much more.   When social workers speak of a cohort they envision a support system built by teamwork and camaraderie that consistently provides encouragement and facilitates the growth and wellbeing of each member of the group. Put more simply, a cohort is a special kind of family.

Since entering the Winston Salem Distance Ed MSW program last year my cohort has banded together to synergize ideas, challenge our assumptions, tackle tough workloads, solve problems, commiserate, and celebrate. We’ve shared many meals and built even more memories. We’ve welcomed three newborns, and regrettably say “goodbye” to a few fellow classmates who will forever be regarded as cohort kin in this family of ours. It’s the stuff of families!

Now, I’ve been around various academic environs long enough to know that this kind of full sharing is not the norm. Furthermore, it doesn’t just happen, it must be cultivated. To be sure, UNC’s program attracts the best of the best – including you! – which is no doubt why you are reading this blog. And certainly, each member of my cohort brings a great deal of talent and energy to the table, too. But those things are just as likely to divide as they are to unite. What has added the necessary framework to make such a family possible is the high level of academic and professional instructors and leaders within the UNC program from whom we have the opportunity to learn. That framework consistently gives us the foundational tools with which to build our relationship. And what could be more perfect within the ranks of aspiring social workers than to cultivate a culture that nurtures and protects the individuality, ingenuity, and industry of each of its members. As a result, in the last 12 months within our distance-ed cohort we have fostered a family microcosm that reflects the greater purposes to which we all aspire. For social workers – it just doesn’t get any better!

As you consider your future plans and weigh in on the various programs be assured that in the UNC-MSW program you can come expecting great things. Plus, I hope you come expecting to work hard and accomplish great things – because you will! And, one of the greatest of those accomplishments will be the bonds of friendship and family that you build within your class cohort – as well as among a larger cohort of social work professionals throughout your academic and professional experience.

And now, speaking of “expecting to work hard” . . . it’s about time I get out of the blog and back to the books!


About Marguerite Keil

Ancora Imparo! To sweet endings, new beginnings and live long learning! I have now finished my third and final year of the UNC-MSW program and it has exceeded my expectations! I completed the first two years through the Winston Salem Distance Education program that was phenomenal and have now just finished an equally great year here on campus. Certainly I leave the program with more knowledge, but more importantly, I leave with more personal insight and a clearer sense of myself. But this is not the end - only a new beginning. In a few weeks I embark on a new career - not the one I envisioned with the full-time employer I had when I first enrolled. Instead, these years of academic training and field work have blazed a new path and opened new doors of opportunity. They have brought new people and a new scope of practice into my life. I owe a good part of this to the certificate program (Substance Abuse Certificate in my case), which is why I want to encourage others to pursue some certification or licensure along with their MSW. Yes, it does mean more work, but in the end I am quite sure you will be glad you did. And the experiences you share with those pursuing the same path will make your time at Carolina that much sweeter and memorable. Blessings! ~mk
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