Group Work Yields A New Source of Support

July 25, 2017
Sargent with his daughter Allie at graduation.

 

When Cody Sargent was only a few courses into his Master of Science in Engineering program at UW-Platteville, he encountered his first group project. Like many students, he worried that working with a group online would present more challenges than opportunities. As luck would have it, that randomly assigned partner would help shape the rest of Sargent’s time in the program.

Sargent and his group mate, Eric Walker, hit it off almost immediately. Each brought his own skillset that complemented the other, and they quickly learned to rely on one another. Their collaboration proved so successful that the two men coordinated schedules so they could work on more projects and classes together.

“It can make such a difference to develop that trust in a classmate or group—if a work thing came up and I needed help or extra time, I knew he had my back,” Sargent said. “I was moving, changing jobs, starting a family, and Eric had three kids and a job of his own—I don’t think there was anyone in our program who wasn’t balancing school, work, and family. You can feel like you’re the only one struggling sometimes, but believe me, if we can do it, so can you.”

While Walker’s friendship was critical, Sargent also credits the support of his wife, Michelle; his daughter, Allie; and many other friends and family members with helping him succeed. He was able to celebrate with many of them at his December 2016 graduation ceremony. Although Sargent and his wife, both UW-Platteville alumni, had to brave icy conditions and a long trip from Bonaire, Georgia, he said it was important for them to attend the ceremony and celebrate with their daughter, Allie.

“It felt so good to be there and take the stage, but it was weird too. This has been a big part of my life for years and now it is over. But, I’m excited to start applying what I’ve learned,” Sargent said.

He will have plenty of opportunities to explore the concepts he learned alongside Walker through his new career with the United States Air Force. In August, Sargent started a civil service role as a mechanical engineer and has traveled the country learning how to work on the C-5 aircraft, the largest airplane used by the U.S. military. Sargent’s education is supporting his current role and his future aspirations as well.

“When I started my program, it was for myself. There was no promise for more money or advancement, but I knew if I wanted to move up in engineering, a master’s degree was going to give me the opportunity,” Sargent said. “My education helped me get this new job, and the Air Force places a lot of value in master’s degrees, so I will be prepared to move up the ranks. It’s put me in a position to achieve my goals.”

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