Busy, Bittersweet Monday

Monday, April 4th, was a long, exciting, nerve-racking, fun, exhausting, unforgettable day in the life of this soon-to-be MSW grad.

6:15 – Roll out of bed and get ready. Business casual today–meeting potential employers at UNC SSW Career Day. Pack a change of clothes, including lucky UNC t-shirt.

6:56 – Catch my carpool from Winston-Salem to Chapel Hill with my classmate Chad. Lots of chatter on the way about upcoming graduation, job prospects, and the evening’s NCAA basketball championship game.

8:30 – Coffee. Brain waking up.

9:00 – Health Policy class. Videos and discussion of some incredible people and organizations that are increasing access to health care for disadvantaged people in the Triangle and in other parts of the country.

10:30 – No Program Evaluation class today. Time to check email, print articles, and get geared up for Career Day. Collar straight? Check. Résumés? Check. Breath mint? Check. Let’s do this.

11:00 – Career Day sign-in, name tag placement, and a quick review of the list of organizations represented and where they’re set up. Three of particular interest, one on the third floor, two on the fifth. Commiserate with a classmate about how nerve-racking the meet-and-greet process is for introverts like us. “Whose turn to talk is it?”  Reminded by SSW staff member what Career Day is about: making connections and impressions. In fact, the positive impression she made at Career Day helped her land her first post-grad job.

11:03-11:56 – Smiles, handshakes, questions, conversations, résumés, business cards…whew! Spoke with representatives from two organizations where I’ve recently applied, expressed my enthusiastic interest, hopefully attached a face and a positive impression to my name. Possibly laid the groundwork with a few others as well.

Kids and families, mental health, immigrants and refugees, military and veteran services, school social work, substance use treatment, older adults, social services, and on and on. Whatever your professional interests, there was someone at Career Day for you to check out. And they’re all there because they want talented social workers and know where to find them. A few of the organizations didn’t even have current openings; they just want to be well-positioned within the UNC MSW community for when they do!

11:57 – Professionalizing done. Head to the car to change into my comfy shoes and lucky t-shirt.

12:10 – Chick-fil-a.

12:36 – Chat with a fellow MSW student with whom I’ve had a class or two but never a conversation. She’s from Georgia, has done international work related to human trafficking, and is determined to figure out what the Hebrew tattoo on my right wrist means. Good luck with that. J We compared results on a Differential Diagnosis exam and talked about post-graduation plans. Last month of grad school, still meeting interesting, enjoyable people who want to change the world for good.

1:06 – Find a spot to read for my next class. End up mostly chatting with a couple classmates about Career Day.

2:00 – Groups class. Marilyn Ghezzi is such a knowledgeable and engaging professor—one of my favorites! If there’s a clinical class offered at UNC SSW, she’s probably taught it (diagnosis, brief treatment, DBT, groups, trauma treatment—you name it). Not only a clinician extraordinaire, she’s extremely accessible and loves meeting with students. In preparation for a post-graduate fellowship interview last month, she was glad to meet with me to offer her insight into what experience and knowledge I should highlight in my interview. (Dr. Michael Lambert, an equally engaging professor, offered his counsel as well.)

4:44 – Class dismissed. Game time. Catch up with Chad to figure out our pregame meal logistics. Where should we eat to maximize our mojo for the game? We have to do our part!

5:27 – Burgers and vanilla Cokes (from the fountain, not a bottle) at Sutton’s Drug Store, a Chapel Hill institution.

 

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6:10 – Recognize a guy in Sutton’s that we knew from undergrad at UNC (many moons ago). Spent a few minutes reminiscing about old dormmates and road trips to the Florida. Sutton’s has been his pregame routine for the last month, and we’re undefeated over that period. He’s doing his part, too.

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6:27 – Head to the Dean Dome to watch the game. Joined by Chad’s wife and another classmate. Line up outside with a sea of Carolina-blue-clad students and fans, buzzing with anticipation. Try to photobomb as many selfies as possible.

8:00 – Students admitted into the Dean Dome. Spend a few minutes finding the optimal viewing spot. End up in Section 109, Row 3.

 

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8:55 – Building is filling up, band is playing, crowd is cheering. This is getting real.

 

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9:19 – Tip-off of the 2016 NCCA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game. Heels vs. Wildcats. Not a person seated in the building.

9:20-11:25 – Mostly an adrenaline-fueled blur of joy, frustration, determination, anxiety, despair, hope, and exhilaration. A 10-point comeback in the waning minutes of the game, capped by a contorting, double-pump 3-pointer to tie the game, by one of the grittiest guards to ever wear a Tar Heel jersey. The building explodes with new life! Just 4.7 seconds left then we’re going to overtime. “But 4.7 seconds is an eternity in basketball time,” my gut reminds me.

11:26 – Stunned silence. My lucky t-shirt failed us. Villanova’s Kris Jenkins knocks down a buzzer-beating, game-winning, 25-foot jumpshot to break the hearts of Tar Heel nation. I will never forget the sight of Marcus Paige, who almost single-handedly willed us back into the game, weeping as he walked off the court. He gave everything he had, and it was all gone in 4.7 seconds. What a heart-rending way to end such a special career at UNC.

11:32 – Shake off the disbelief. Begin the long walk back to the car, followed by the long drive back to Winston-Salem. Lots of sighs and what-ifs and positive reframes. “At least it was a great game.” “What a comeback we made.” “Villanova is a great team, and they deserved it.” Impossible not to be proud of our guys, despite the heaviness of disappointment.

1:06 – Arrive home. Quick glance at the mail. Brush teeth. Roll into bed. Lots to do tomorrow and the next four weeks. Thankful to be a part of such a vibrant university community, and a student in a program so engaged in the molding of outstanding professionals and the pursuit social justice. Special day over, exciting things ahead.

Go Heels.

 

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About Ross Cole

I'm a second-year student in the Winston-Salem Distance Ed program. My primary career interests are in the mental health realm, and I plan to get my clinical license (LCSW). My current field placement is at CareNet Counseling in Winston-Salem. I live in Jamestown and am a native North Carolinian, but I've lived in several other states (spent 9+ years in Seattle, WA). Oh, and I ran into Bob Barker at the Louvre when I was like 10.
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