Dear Students,
 
It's been quite a year.

In January 2020 I taught in Singapore, and I brought home a tin of Kuih Kapit, or Love Letter cookies, a traditional Lunar New Year treat. It was a large tin and the cookies kept well, so I brought them to my office at TC and nibbled on them with a cup of coffee during office hours or whenever I needed help to stay alert during afternoon meetings. I had a day’s worth of meetings on Thursday, March 5th, and I was especially grateful for the still generous supply of cookies left in the tin. That was the last time I was in my office.

Has your experience of time been like mine over the past year? Simultaneously fast and slow, with whole months passing by like mere moments, yet a single day feeling endless in its monotonousness and anxiety? It feels like just last week that I was enjoying those cookies. Yet, I can barely remember anything about the entire month of October.

I have heard from many of you that you are exhausted wrapping up assignments, exams, papers, and pressing priorities at work and at home. I know you are all looking forward to the semester’s end. I can relate. We surely all need a break, and especially a break from Zoom.

My brother (who is also a professor) and I have commiserated over the years about how tough the end of the fall semester can be, given the heavy workload and simultaneous need to prepare for the holidays. On a recent phone call, he told me he feels both excited and wistful about this semester ending, as he has enjoyed his students tremendously and it feels hard to say goodbye to them. I feel wistful for the same reason. Ending class in this virtual environment feels more starkly final somehow, absent the promise of bumping into this semester’s students on campus in the new year.

And yet, the wistfulness speaks to the real and rich learning community we have built in the S-OP program this fall. I am so proud of all of you for rising to the challenge of our shared task of learning in this virtual environment, of your embracing relentless ambiguity and opting for curiosity rather than judgement. We are still standing in the middle of the change curve. We still have much work to do in the face of the inextricable pandemics of Covid-19 and racial injustice. Yet, my experience working with you all this fall has only made me hopeful for our shared future. I am grateful for the break -- indeed, I need it. But I am excited to rejoin you in 2021 and to continue to make sense of the world together.

In my Group Dynamics course, we talk about ways to pay attention to what is under the surface in order to understand both the implicit and explicit processes of groups and systems. Sometimes, an ear worm, a song we can’t get out of our heads, reveals something that is just out of our awareness. The Counting Crows song, A Long December, has been my ear worm lately.

Here is a snippet of the lyrics:

I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

I am holding on to the hopefulness of our shared work in the S-OP program community. Wishing each of you a restful, safe and joy-filled winter break. See you in 2021.

Warm regards,
 

Sarah Brazaitis, PhD
MA Program Director 

 

Current Student Profile

 

Katrina Monton is a second-year M.A. student in the Social-Organizational Psychology program. Prior to attending TC, Columbia University, she was a professional athlete on the Canadian Women’s National Water Polo team, competing in five Aquatic World Championships, two Pan American Games, and countless tournaments at the national and international level. Following her retirement from team Canada, she completed a M.A. in Counselling Psychology at McGill University, in her hometown, Montreal, Canada.

During her time at TC, Katrina has become passionate about the intersection between social justice and sport. As an athlete, she experienced positive and negative coaching, leadership, and sport culture first-hand. Katrina’s athletic experiences have become a driving force in her life and have prompted her to pursue a number of opportunities in this area. This past summer, she was a program research associate with the US Center for Safe Sport, where she assisted with the development and evaluation of content for training programs related to the safety, equity, and inclusion for Olympic and Paralympic athletes in the United States. Katrina is currently a program officer and safe sport advisor with the Equality League, a non-profit that seeks to advance gender equity and safety in sport. As well, she is a research fellow at the Canadian Olympic Committee, where she conducted a study investigating the role of well-being and sport-life balance on athletic performance at the 2019 Pan/Para Pan American Games.

Katrina hopes to continue her academic journey next fall in a doctoral program. She is passionate about developing the skills necessary to become a practitioner who cultivates safe, equitable and inclusive sport environments. Katrina’s current research endeavor involves combining her athletic and academic interests to explore the impact of organizational culture on athlete safety.

 

Alumni Profile 

 

Natalie Keretho is a 2018 MA graduate. Based in New York, she is working at Dow Jones as the People Development and Engagement Associate and Project Manager overseeing the strategic planning and execution of her team’s projects. Her work spans across organizational development, performance management, talent reviews, employee engagement, and executive programs. Natalie’s proudest accomplishment was the design and execution of 'IGNITE,' an award-winning women’s leadership program. She finds a great deal of joy in creating space for individuals to discover passion and achieve the best version of themselves.

Originally from Thailand, Natalie has a unique experience working across various cultures and industries. She previously worked in the public sector at the United States Agency for International Development in Bangkok. This experience sparked her interest in social psychology and the role it plays in organizational success.

After moving to New York, Natalie immersed herself in the new culture and built an incredible network of colleagues and life-long friends at TC. Beyond attending classes, she once served on the Group Relations Conference’s Administration team — one of the most memorable learning experiences during her time at TC.

In her free time, Natalie dedicates her energy to mastering a perfect shot of espresso and making latte art — a newly found hobby that keeps her occupied during the pandemic.

Feel free to connect with Natalie on LinkedIn.

 

Recommended Readings

The following podcast recommendations come to you courtesy of students in the Fall 2020 Group Dynamics course. Here's hoping you can tune in to one or more of them over the winter break.