Your Future Colleagues | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
MSW/MPH Student Emma Swinford
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Your Future Colleagues

Since day one of the fall semester, one of my Brown School professors has made a point to refer to me and my peers not his students, but as "future colleagues." Though I was vaguely surprised by this, I appreciate the mentality behind it. It is a reminder that the personal and professional relationships we build in school will not end on graduation day. It's a  reminder that we are part of a much larger web of social work and public health practitioners. It's a reminder that we all have had the privilege to invest in our professional path. My professor's choice to refer to us as his future colleagues—and his encouragement that we think of each other as future colleagues—puts graduate education into a larger context.

In the midst of balancing homework, family, and work, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that a professor might one day be a collaborator on a new initiative, or a group-mate might one day be a co-worker. Yet, after two—maybe three, (you dual-degree students!)—years at the Brown School, we'll enter (or re-enter) the professional world. Thinking of my classmates as future colleagues is a gentle reminder that graduate school is one step on a long professional journey. The investments we make at the Brown School in ourselves, each other, and in a vision for a healthier, more just world will accompany us beyond the boundaries of campus.

Living in St. Louis, the idea that members of the Brown School community will one day be colleagues is simply the reality. The breadth and depth of the Brown School network is enormous. In all of the professional interactions I've had during my time in St. Louis, the people I've talked to are either directly connected to the Brown School or are very familiar with the program. They talk about projects they've worked on with former professors, the supportive professional networks they've formed with Brown alum, and how they've fallen in love with St. Louis.   

Finally, I like thinking of my peers as future colleagues because it speaks to the idea that education (whether in a classroom, in the field, or in life at large) is a lifelong pursuit that is intricately tied to how we approach other areas of our lives. The past few months, I have often returned to a quote by Abigail Adams: "Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence." Learning is work. It is tricky, bewildering, meaningful work. And it's work I'm pleased to do alongside some innovative, conscientious, and knowledgeable future colleagues.