What is a cohort? An Introduction To C16

The 16th graduate cohort has arrived at the North Cascades Institute. Tasked with the responsibility of introducing ourselves to you readers, I thought it best to start by looking at the word ‘cohort’, as it has come to be a large part of our identity as a group and as individuals.
I remember the first time we were referred to as a cohort. It was in an email sent by Joshua Porter, the director of our residency program. He wrote that we C16 (what we are commonly addressed as here at the Institute), were about to begin the process of forming our identity together. Having never before been part of any official cohort, I thought this was meant as a collective noun for a group of students. Like a herd of elk, a murder of crows, a grumble of pugs…we are a cohort of grads!
If one were to look to Merriam-Webster for the definition of ‘cohort’, they would find the following:

  1. a: one of 10 divisions of an ancient Roman legion ba group of warriors or soldiers cband, group 

  2. companion, colleague

I’m almost certain that we have no Roman military formation seminars scheduled this fall but I could be wrong. We are a group and I would easily describe us as companions and colleagues. But still, these definitions seem a bit sterile. They all fall short of what the word ‘cohort’ has come to mean to me since we began this residency together in early July.
These 16 individuals have become more than colleagues or fellow peers. They are my friends who break the stress of graduate school with laughter and understand that sometimes all I need is a piece of chocolate. They are the people who did not judge the smells coming from my body after 10 days of backpacking because they smelled equally as pleasant. My cohort are the people who I’ve prepared, shared and cleaned countless meals with, under a canopy of evergreen or in a crowded kitchen. They are the people who have been bunk mates, tent mates and now roommates. We’ve traveled miles on foot, boat and questionable vans, from the mountains to Puget Sound and back again. They share their gifts and are eager learners when I share my own. My cohort have been a part of almost every adventure I’ve taken since day one. They are a part of my story and sense of place here within the North Cascades.
So who are these incredible, inspiring people!? Well, I have picked two hard hitting questions so that you may get a better sense of who they are as individuals. Drawn from the questions we answer during our Mountain School introduction, I have asked them to answer the following:

#1: What useless superpower do you possess?
#2: If your fingers could produce condiments, what would they be?
I hope you enjoy getting to know them as I have. If you find yourself wanting to know more, you can find our official bio’s here.
I present, C16!
C16 Ash
Ash Kunz
My useless superpower is (drumroll please!) looking great in ridiculous hats!
If my fingers could produce condiments on demand that condiment would be NUTELLA – I’m all about that choco-hazelnut life!
C16 Kay
Kay Gallagher
My useless superpower is that I am really good at waking up well before my alarm goes off, but usually end up going back to bed and missing my alarm anyways.
If my fingers could produce condiments, they would be homemade raspberry jelly and almond butter because you can put them on most anything – from apple slices to ice cream!
C16 Smokey

Emily aka Smokey Brine

My useless superpower: ability to read my own mind.
Condiments: sriracha mayo, soy sauce, ketchup, tapatio, Lawrys seasoning

C16 Nick
Nick Engelfried
My useless superpower is that I can type really fast, but generally make lots of mistakes along the way.
If my fingers could produce a condiment it would be balsamic vinegar.
Jenny C16
Jenny O’Toole
My un-super power would probably be…when I first meet people I can make up a unique dance to represent my first impression of them in order to remember their name.
No question. BBQ sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, guacamole and the best virgin olive oil there is!

C16 Lauren
Lauren Johnson
I like to think of myself as a master of organization.
Hmm. Is hummus a condiment? If not, then honey mustard.

C16 Andrew
Andrew Franks-Ongoy
My useless superpower would be my Fast Rubik’s Cube solving ability.
Condiment out of my finger: Shoyu.
C16 Hanna
Hanna Davis
My useless superpower is my ability to make color coded lists.
Condiments: Easy cheese. For sure.

C16 Becky
Becky Moore
My useless superpower is that I’m chronically 2 minutes tardy, sometimes more, never less.
I would definitely have Tapatio come out three of my fingers, and BBQ sauce out of the other two.
C16 Sarah
Sarah Clement
My useless superpower is always forgetting at least one thing when I leave my house (keys, sunglasses, wallet…it’s usually something important).
If I could have a condiment come out of my finger…I’m all about that spinach artichoke dip.

C16 Melissa
Melissa Biggs
My useless superpower would have to be my ability to smell things from far away…I have a keen sense of smell!
Hmm…condiments…that’s a hard one since I don’t really use/eat them. I guess if my fingers could produce condiments, it would be vinegar to put on my delicious, greasy, boardwalk fries. So healthy!

C16 Alexei
Alexei Desmarais
My useless superpower is my ability to tie my shoes with my feet.
If a condiment could come out of my finger, it would be horseradish.
C16 Greta
Greta Olson
My useless superpower is that I’m great at trivia games!
If a condiment could come of my finger, it would be sour cream.

C16 Rachael
Rachael Grasso
My useless superpower would be unfailing ability to remember things.
Condiment out of my finger? Mayo, for sure.

C16 Jihan
Jihan Grettenberger
My useless superpower is I can read people’s minds, but only in languages I don’t know.
If I could produce any condiment from my fingers, it would be balsamic vinegar.
C16 Dan
Daniel Dubie
If I had a useless superpower, I would have the ability to fly, but only in a car while it’s moving.
A condiment out of my finger? Mustard!
C16 Angela
Angela Burlile
My useless superpower would be…my ability to get all the dishes cleaned and put away before I’m finished cooking anything.
Imagining condiments coming out of your fingers is slightly terrifying BUT if I could summon condiments out of my fingers I would probably choose the spicy chile sauce Sambal Oelek. Sambal Oelek > Sriracha. Trust me.

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