Reflections of the First Years

Lincoln Memorial on a rainy night

Lincoln Memorial on a rainy night

By Rachel Clement

There are several programs at The Elliott School (and other graduate institutions) which do not operate on a cohort system. For those of you who don’t know, the IDS program enrolls a certain number of students each year (typically 30-40) who move through at least one core class together each semester over the 2 year program.  In addition, they work closely together their second year to complete a Capstone project. (For a great example of Capstone work see last week’s blog post!)

I sat down with other members of my cohort to see how they felt about being part of such a tight-knit group, and about their respective moves to DC.  This year’s IDS group  consists of 34-students. I know that I was somewhat nervous when starting grad school this fall with regards to meeting my cohort. Choosing the right program is a hard enough decision but being stuck with 30 some-odd people for two years made it harder. I, for one, am happy with my decision. More than happy, in fact. From the first OID mixer in August to the camaraderie I felt during finals this past winter, my fellow IDSers have been supportive, engaging, and enlightening. When I read the biographies of the incoming class this summer from my home in Colorado I was amazed: my classmates comes from all over the world including: US, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Venezuela, Mexico, India, Saudi Arabia. Our cohort has worked and lived in over 15 developing nations and speaks over 2o different languages.

The White House

The White House

On Living in Washington, DC: Several people mentioned how exciting it was to be here this year, particularly with Inauguration. The IDS cohort includes people from diverse political affiliations – including Republicans (check out this picture of someone running into John McCain on the GWU campus!), Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, and everything in between.  Regardless of party affiliation or nationality, there was a common sense of excitement regarding Inauguration activities and being in the center of it all.

Starting in May,the Sculpture Garden hosts Jazz in the Garden. When it’s too cold for music or movies al fresco, the Sculpture Garden is open for ice skating.  Beyond the many historical, cultural, and artistic things to see and do in the nation’s capitol, GWU students are always adding the latest information from development to their knowledge base. “I love going to all the conferences and talks with high level players in the field,” said Allison DeMaio.

Inauguration 2013

Inauguration 2013

Other interviews expressed enjoyment in studying at the Library of Congress, walking past the White House, and visiting the many Smithsonian Museums (for FREE!) during their leisure time.  Ashley McEvoy said, “all of the organizations  and places you might want to work are right here.” In addition there are weekly lectures and conferences at GWU and other institutions. During the summer, the city hosts Screen on the Green, where you can cozy up with friends and watch movies on the National Mall. Sometimes it seems like there is too much to do and too little time. We think this isn’t a bad problem to have.

On being in a cohort: “It’s nice to have a group that gets you,” stated Carmina Villa-Garcia. “Yeah,” agreed Ashley McEvoy, “at the end of the day you’re all there for the same reason. We all have this group we can come back to. We share classes and all care about other people, are adventurous, and friendly. We all have our own friends and interests but it’s nice to be able to count on the cohort. It’s really nice to be a part of a group that does things outside of school, too.” Allisson DeMaio put it this way, “We all have our own areas of concentration, and different ideas about how to do things, but we can talk through things and bring different perspectives to the table. We all have the same end goal.” Allison is taking a class at Georgetown right now, through the consortium system GWU is a part of. She says, “I love my consortium class. GWU has most of what I want to study but I love that I can pick up a specific skill elsewhere. Different schools specialize in different things and I love that I can go there and meet new people in the field.”

Although being in a cohort doesn’t make us pod-people, sometimes great minds do think alike (at least in terms of fashion):

Morgan Simon & Rachel Clement at a networking event

Morgan Simon & Rachel Clement at a networking event

Zahra Khan, Hillary Hartley, Kevin Robinson, & Simon Böhler after class

Zahra Khan, Hillary Hartley, Kevin Robbins, & Simon Böhler after class

What are your thoughts? Want to see more about a specific topic or interest? Email us at oid@gwu.edu!

Advertisements