The members of the Fredericksburg Learning Community are making dinner reservations. That’s right. We are planning a big night out to celebrate a shared milestone—come December, we will be halfway through the EdD program. While this accomplishment is important to each of us individually (as we plan our next steps professionally and think about what pieces of our personal life we will reclaim in May 2014), being “halfway there” really means nothing if we cannot celebrate together.
I have spent some time reflecting on the true power of a cohort. I freely admit that I didn’t get it at first. While it was nice to know your classmates, I didn’t really understand how important these nine people would be to my success in this program. How did this happen? We went from being friends and colleagues, in the same program, to adults who learn from, lean on, and genuinely like one another.
Some might say it’s Survivor’s Syndrome, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s just like good teaching—the relationships that we are building foster an environment of cooperation and a place where it’s safe to take risks. We are not only in this together, but we are making darn sure that we all get there together. And that hasn’t always been easy. Over the past 14 months life has thrown our cohort some curveballs–new babies, promotions, hospital stays, broken hearts, sick children, long distance relationships, and parenting challenges. Each curveball could have easily derailed an individual doctoral student, but not the Power of Ten. We’ve been there for one another.
So it’s the relationships that are seeing us through. We are stronger together than we are alone. Who else but a cohort member can really understand what it means to travel on this journey? And I, for one, will be forever grateful that I did not have to travel alone. I had Taneshia, Eric, Melanie, John, Andy, Jenn, Andrea, Dawn, and Tammy by my side.
Oh, and our next celebration? That’s already in the works for May 2014. After all, what fun is graduating, if you can’t celebrate together?