A First Look Inside UNT’s Cohort Program
A First Look Inside UNT’s Cohort Program
The UNT Cohort Program is a unique 3 year degree program that provides hands-on problem-solving in partnership with city and business entities.
Rebecca Irizarry and Joanna Jesu Dawson are part of the first Cohort Program class and give us an inside look at what they’re doing in the program, how it’s impacting them, and whether they would recommend it to other students.
SHOW NOTES:[01:55] 2019 Cohort Project on AI-Based Public Transportation
[02:50] Cohort Program Overview
[04:45] Survey results on the state of traffic and traffic hotspots
[06:63] How the Cohort Program is personally impacting students
[09:23] What comes after the Cohort Program
[12:08] Why they would recommend the Cohort Program to others considering it
LINKS & RESOURCES:
- UNT Frisco
- University of North Texas
- Cohort Program Info:
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco on:
On this episode of UNT unplugged, we’re going to sit down with a couple of the UNT cohort program students, Rebecca Irizarry and Joanna Desu Dawson, and they’re going to give us the inside scoop on what they’re going through, what they’re learning and how the cohort program is impacting them. If you or maybe your child is interested in the cohort program, you’ll definitely want to tune in and give this one a listen, learn a little bit more about the program and how it is affecting these students personally. All right. I want to welcome both of you to this podcast. And first of all, why don’t we start with allowing you guys to introduce yourselves. Tell us your name and what year you are in the cohort program and what it is you guys are studying right now.
My name is Rebecca Irizarry and I am a freshman of the Cohort Program.
Okay. I’m Joanna Jesu Dawson and I’m a freshman at the Cohort Program.
Okay, so you guys are both freshmen and does that mean you’re just got started this fall? Okay, so what are you studying? What is the the course or the project that you’re working on? Right.
The project that we are focused on. So the program that we are in is an integrative program. So all of our classes including our core classes all relate to each other and are all focused around our main project. And right now we are working on discovering a route of public transportation for possible AI systems within the city of Frisco.
That sounds complicated. Um, is that something that’s of personal interest to you guys? You find that interesting? Is that
I definitely do. When I was interested, like when I was attracted to the program I was, they told us we’re going to be working in like project based learning, which is something that I learn the best with. So that’s what really attracted me to it. The topic itself interested me, but I had no experience with it.
Fair enough. So tell us a little bit more about, let’s talk just generally about the cohort program, cohort program. It is project based learning. Um, but you guys are still taking all the regular classes and things too, right?
We are. So the way it works is we have a, we’re taking English history, psychology and a couple of other classes that are related to the pro cohort itself. But everything we’re learning in the core classes, um, help relate to our pro uh, project.
Okay. So how many, how many hours in a semester is that equal then? Do they still measure it that way? I mean that’s that when I was in college, that’s kind of how we were looking at it. I think it’s 1313 hours. Okay. Plus is that including the time that you spend what is solely 13 hours in the classroom.
Okay. And then you’ve got hours on top of that to work on the actual project?
Yes. So when we entered into the cohort program, we each got split into different groups. So as a whole year, five different groups and we each have to meet outside of the cohort in order to work together and meet together and get our, basically our thoughts planned out and what we’re doing. Cause we each, basically our end goal by the end of this semester is to have each of us individually as a group present to the city of Frisco.
Okay. So who are you guys working with on this project? Who’s the, the business partner? The city of Frisco would be, it is the city of Frisco specifically. Okay. So you guys are, if I understand correctly, you guys are going to help us figure out the best paths for AI driven vehicles to take within the city. Is that the goal? Yes sir. Yes. That’s pretty interesting. And it’s, it’s, it’s definitely something I think the citizens of Frisco would love to hear more about. There’s been a lot of, well there’s always a lot of talk about how much traffic is infrast go and the people keep moving here and the traffic keeps getting worse. So hopefully these will be, uh, you guys will help us, uh, maybe solve a part of that problem.
Definitely. That was one of the main we had for our psychology course. We had to conduct a survey to find out people’s thoughts about the transportation within Frisco. Tell us about that then. Yes. And of course, as you can imagine, what most people said, Oh, it’s awful. There’s traffic all the time. Most of the people that I interviewed personally, I don’t know about Joanna, um, came from outside of the city of Frisco. So they have to transport to Frisco, which means they get to deal with all of the traffic early in the morning, late at night when they’re getting off at work. So that was their biggest complaint. And through the survey we kind of had to figure out what hotspots people were going to, where they’re going for work, where they’re going to play, where they wanted to find entertainment. So just to kind of find if there was public transportation within the city, where would we go and where would we gauge it towards?
Interesting. I, other than frustration over all of the traffic, um, how, what were the hotspots? Where are the people that, places that I can’t even talk now. What are the places in Frisco that people are largely coming to work at? Do you remember what those hotspots were?
A lot of people go either shop or they work at Stonebriar mall. Um, we have a lot of people who frequent Frisco square and the star.
Okay. That would be about what I would’ve guessed. So that makes a lot of sense. There’s a lot of businesses a kind of gathered in those areas. Um, are you guys from Frisco? No. No, no. What part of the city are you from? Are you from somewhere else? I live in McKinney. McKinney. Okay. You’re not too far away. I’m in Lewisville though, so. Okay. So we’re kind of flanked on either side of Frisco Bay, which means you guys are feeling the impacts of all the things that are happening in Frisco for sure. Definitely. Okay. So talk to me a little bit and I’d like to hear from each of you on, I know you’re just getting started in the program, so this question may be a little bit premature, but so far based on what you’ve had the opportunity to do, how is the program impacted you personally?
I’m definitely learning how to manage my time. Um, I’ve definitely, when I started college I was like, I’m not gonna have any time to do anything, but the classes we’ve been taking, they’re teaching us how to manage our time properly and I’m starting to see, I have so much time to do other stuff that I really enjoy. That’s good for me. It’s definitely the same thing with the time management and just knowing how to fit everything together because I also work on the side, so trying to figure out how that was going to play into doing the cohort and all of the hours outside of the cohort that we need to do in order to get our teams together. It was very difficult in the beginning, but we have a class called applied seminar. Applied seminar. Thank you. Yes. Called applied seminar where we basically, that is a class where we go into to learn. It’s kind of basically learning about self and how to manage our thoughts and manage our time and just how we have the predictivity that we’re already able to manage right now. But it could be vastly improved. And that is one thing that we’ve learned a whole lot about. But for me personally, I’ve applied it to my workplace a lot because we’ve used different methodologies in class that I’ve never even considered before.
I mean I am a freshman so I’m learning a ton. That is one thing that I’ve been able to do a lot just to apply it to the workplace and how to keep things organized and keep things running smoothly, especially when I, I had to take on a lot of, a lot less hours whenever I joined the cohort. So I had to be able to tell people how to do things correctly, which there was some friction within the beginning because once the responsibility was passed on to someone else and they didn’t do it correctly, it came back and reflected upon me. So through the methodologies that I learned, I was able to kind of how to properly instruct someone to do something and to make sure that everyone was able to do it and basically be on the same page even though we’re all in separate places doing separate things.
Okay. So do you guys I guess have the responsibility of of, and I don’t want to say coaching, but sort of directing other cohort students.
We were assigned our groups, but the group, everyone, the everyone’s role in the group is assigned based on who you are, whether you’re going to take leadership and yes, we definitely, there are certain people who it’s not their strength we need, they need help someone to come along and help them out. Um, kind of say, Hey, do this.
Providing guidance. Yeah. I mean there’s different personality types, right? Is what I’m hearing and, and you guys sort of naturally fall into those roles, but it’s not necessarily a specific, like you’re not assigned to be the leader of this project for the semester or anything like that. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. Then let’s talk a little bit about down the road. I know again, you’re both freshmen, so this is probably looking way too far down the road. It feels like years away for you, but the Cohort Program is three years, correct? Yes. Yes. Do you guys already have a, a, an idea of you want to do after graduation or when you finish this program?
I do. Um, mine is completely different from what the cohort is. The cohort is more business related. I actually want to go to med school after college. Okay. So this is something I’ve been wanting to do since I was like eighth grade. I knew what I wanted to do, but, and the, but the cohort, it gives you so many skills that you really don’t, you don’t need a science background to go to med school, but the cohort teaches you leadership, uh, teamwork, just all the skills you’re gonna need anytime in life. So although I’m going something completely different, I’m definitely more prepared in my opinion.
Yeah, those are definitely still good life skills. And it’s good that you have some free time now that you didn’t think you’d have in this program because you won’t in med school. I can assure you that I’ve got a few friends that have gone through it and uh, it’s, it’s, it’s a lot of work but uh, congratulate you on that. And how about you?
I definitely agree with that. When I first heard of the Cohort Program, I was immediately sold on the three year program and when I actually came in and heard about it, it was way too good to pass up all of the experience that they are offering us and the resources that they’re providing. I just, when I was first going thinking about colleges, I wanted to be an OT student, which also is not anything related to the Cohort Program. But the more I was hearing about it and the more like just how it, it’s a general application that applies to everything. These are real life skills that you’re going to use. You’re going to be ready to enter the workplace as soon as you graduate. These are skills that we all need. So I couldn’t pass it up. So basically I am in a state of where I am open to anything as of the moment just because the program is going to guide us through everything and it’s offering us internships. So I’m going to use that as a way to kind of focus in my thoughts and see what areas I like. Cause I’ve always been so focused on the medical field that I never even imagined. There’s a whole business world out there that I could pursue.[inaudible] so you’re still kind of up in the air and not quite sure where that’s gonna where you’re gonna land just yet. And that’s okay. You’ve got plenty of time to figure that out. And once you get there, you might change your mind. I’ve done that a few times myself as I’m sure many of our listeners have. So nothing wrong with that. Um, so it sounds like you feel like this has been a good program for you. It’s definitely helped you prepare for whatever comes next. I can probably guess your answer to this, but I want to hear it from you guys. Is this something that you would recommend to others to do? Absolutely. Most definitely. Yeah. No surprise there. What is it about the Cohort Program that makes you give it such a strong endorsement?
I love the community of the cohort. The fact that since we are a group of 22 are able to know each other individually and play off of each other’s strengths and even just being able, we’re so small that we’re able to come personally connect with each of the teachers. The teachers also know us by name. They’re always willing to help us. They’re always willing to guide us with whatever we need. Even they’re like, if you’ll have personal issues always come to us. They’re very open and even within the cohort, like we frequently go out for lunch together, so it’s more than just like a work based relationship. We’re also folk. We’re actually making friends through the program. We’re able to support each other if something goes wrong. If one of us has an accident, which happened earlier this year, we’re all going to freak out. We’re going to run like, Hey, are you okay? Like we have a group Snapchat group and we’re all like freaking out, like are you alive? Are you okay? And it was just nice to know that there’s so many people supporting you because college is new. It’s scary. You need someone to help kind of guide you through it, even if it’s just among your peers. So it’s amazing to just have that community right there with you and not have to discover that over the course of four years.
So I think one of the things that you’re alluding to that we didn’t really touch on earlier is that the cohort group is quite literally just that there is a group of students and you guys are going to go through this entire program together and and from year one through year three, correct. So you’re really going to be able to build relationships with each other and have that, that tight knit group that’s going through this project.
We’ve been together for 10 weeks so far and I definitely think we’re kind of developing a little family. We’ve really gotten to know each other and we’ve celebrated the hive and the lows of people’s lives already.
Wow. It’s only 10 weeks in. Do you guys take all of the same classes together as well? I mean, are you guys together constantly with that group and that cohort or is there some differentiation and where you guys are and what you’re doing?
There are, so all of our core classes and every, all the classes related to the cohort are together, but then there are certain electives that, um, are unrelated to the cohort, so everyone takes them on their own. Okay. What kinds of electives have you guys taken? I’m taking chemistry or general elective. Yes, it is.
You do want to go [inaudible]
and I’m taking a B [inaudible] computer class.
Okay. What did, I don’t know what that is,
that it’s basically teaching us about Excel and how to use it and just basically how it teaches us a lot about the history of computers, which is actually quite interesting. And I’d never considered it before. I was mainly using it like I just want to be Excel certified. But now I was like, wow, this is really interesting. So I’ve become a bit of an Excel nerd.
I love Excel. You and I could probably sit down and nerd out about that all day long. It’s, that’s a real powerful tool. You can do a lot of fun stuff with it. And chemistry. Interestingly enough, I loved chemistry when I was in college. I was not good at it, but I thought it was absolutely fascinating. So good luck with that. How are you doing so far on that one?
I’m doing good. I’m really enjoying it. It’s a lot of fun.
Good, good. Well listen, I want to wish you guys both very well in the Cohort Program. Maybe at some point, you know toward the end of of the first year we can have you back on. We can talk a little bit more about what that whole year one experience was like. Um, so you’ve got your, your AI or your, um, driving transportation project this semester. Do you know what next semester’s project is next? We’re going to learn about the process that it takes to start a business in Frisco and we’re going to learn how we can, or we’re going to see how it would, we can simplify that process.
Okay. I think that’s something a lot of people would also be very interested in in this city, especially for those businesses that have, um, bricks and mortar type of a storefront or something like that for has a lot of, of requirements, a lot of, uh, hoops that you gotta jump through to get a business open. So anything that can be done to simplify that would be welcome. So thank you guys for working on that. All right, that’s uh, we’re gonna go, let’s go. We’re gonna wrap it up there, but I’m going to invite you guys both back. We’ll have you back on after the end of year one and see how it went and, and kind of tell us a little bit more about the program and thank you both for joining us today. Thank you so much for the opportunity. You bet. And thanks to all of you for tuning in. Hope you enjoyed this episode. And please be sure to subscribe to the UNT Frisco podcast. You will get to hear from a whole lot of people at UNT about all the things that are happening there. We’re going to hear from students like we had on today, and again, have them back on a little bit later to give us an update. So thank you all for tuning in and we’ll talk to you next time.