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What Makes an MDM Student Cohort Successful?

Aug 29, 2018 By Crissy Campbell

This is a farewell speech from Master of Digital Media Program Director, Richard Smith. The speech was spoken at the MDM ungrad on August 17th, a celebration of the completion of the first three terms of the MDM program.

In the MDM program our students learn many processes along the way to becoming leaders and managers and creators in the digital media industries. One of those processes, called the 5 Whys (which originated in Japan in the 1930s), asks you to drill down to root causes when searching for the origins of a problem. I would argue, that you can ask those same questions about a success.

MDM Ungrad Celebration held August 17th at the Centre for Digital Media.

If we regard the current cohort as a success (and I do), what is the origin of that? I asked myself the five whys and this is what I came up with:

First of all, they are a success because they are here, together. This is a group-focused program and this cohort embraced the group.

Second, they are all together. That is, this is not just a bunch of sub-groups under a rough umbrella. This is a group that didn't leave anyone behind or isolated. I don't mean to suggest that this was easy, or that it didn't falter from time to time (no one is perfect), but inclusion was their objective and they strove for that always.

Third, they are a success because they used their group and their inclusion for positive purposes, namely the advancement and improvement of everyone and everything they did. That included fun (and food) as well as the hard work of building and sharing.

Fourth, they were able to sustain and deliver on the promotion and success of everyone because they believed in each other. This was not a cohort that doubted their colleagues. They saw the potential in each other and took advantage of that and as a result were able to depend on that.

Fifth, and finally, they were able to believe in each other because they believed in themselves. It is an incredibly scary and therefore courageous thing to 'put yourself out there' in a setting like MDM. People took risks, they shared their knowledge, they dug deep and did the work because they knew they were worth it.

There is a quote, usually attributed to Margaret Mead (but also to Rosa Luxemburg), that goes,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

I'd like to think that this small group of thoughtful, committed citizens has already begun to change the world. I look forward to seeing what they do, and what future MDM cohorts do, in their turn.

Next week we are about to welcome the 13th cohort to the MDM program, so, to the C13s: welcome to the adventure!