Building a cohort

We are building a cohort.
It may be summer, but things haven’t slowed down at the TRP.  While students attend modules on privacy and procurement, economics of health, or grant writing; other are busy with developing Capstone proposals; and still others are doing research assistantships or community work (like the Ride to conquer Cancer); the TRP Team, in addition to working on curriculum development and a couple big projects we are hoping to announce soon, are also working on building next year’s cohort.
Building a cohort is surprisingly difficult.  For one, we are limited to only people who apply–every year there are some potentially interesting inquiries from people who, for one reason or another, do not submit applications.   Still, for spot, we have approximately four applications, so we spend a lot of time on the selection process.
Although we are only entering the fourth round of selection, we have learned that the TRP and its unconventional curriculum is not for everyone.  The most successful students in the previous cohorts have been ones who take initiative, who are self-directed and driven.  We look for people who want to learn, and are willing and open to change; who demonstrate intellectual flexibility and an openness to trying to understand problems from multiple points of view.  We are looking for diverse backgrounds and experiences, and a genuine desire to improve both themselves as learners and advance health and well-being.
But within this subset of people we also try to consider how the composition of the cohort may contribute to each others’ learning, how interests may overlap, complement or diverge.  It is part art, part systematic learning.  And it is all work.   Since we conduct tandem interviews (two people per interview) Just the interviews alone, for twenty people take forty work-hours–not including reviewing the documents or the scheduling or the discussions before and after.
This is not gruelling work, and I am not writing this to whine or complain–this is actually probably one of the best aspects of trying to build a community of translators; meeting new people and getting to know their stories is important work.  I’m writing this because I want people to know, that if by accident or omission, we miss an email or an inquiry, it is not because we are away on vacation or somehow delinquent, it is because, despite it being summer, the TRP, school, education, admissions, recruitment, selection, graduation, proposals, development, etc., still go on.
And those of us who are zealously committed to our mission: ‘to challenge students to think differently so that they may champion change in their communities and contexts’, wouldn’t have it any other way!
–Written by: Joseph Ferenbok, TRP Director