Words of Advice: Get You a Theme Song


Photo by Mark Solarski

What I’m Thinking:

Holy crap. This semester is going by fast. And I really need to catch up on my readings. And all of a sudden everything is due?! Hold the phone; when did this happen?!

It’s that time in the semester when assignments are in full force and the stress level is

c r a n k e d way up!

I mean, you didn’t think the #3 social work school in the nation was going to be that easy did you?

(Then again, isn’t that the reality of Graduate School in general?)

Thank goodness a much-needed university-wide break is right around the corner. And that North Carolina weather finally dropped low enough to sport some hella cute Autumn layers and minimal sweat during rushed walks to class. Not to mention, thank goodness for the community of support I’ve found at UNC School of Social Work! Support and encouragement in the form of peers, colleagues, and faculty – btw, this is one of the major reasons I chose attending UNC SSW over other competitive programs.

They. Just. Get. It.

(It also helps that a big chunk of faculty are alumni of UNC SSW because they have gone through the process themselves!)

Not going to sugarcoat it – it’s been a rather stressful few weeks with balancing assignments/projects, readings, field practicum hours, and personal responsibilities. This time in the semester is pretty intense – surely this is true for all of dmy social work colleagues regardless of the cohort! In saying this, I’m happy to share the powerful words of wisdom given to me from one of my mentors on my very first day of class:

Get yourself a theme song.

-Dr. Iris Carlton-LaNey

[Recipient of the 2019 Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award; The Berg-Beach Distinguised Professor of Community Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work]

Yup. I’m not kidding. Apparently, it’s a thing. And I assure you it works.

Random Tidbit: I’ve lost count of the times I’ve visited a faculty mentor in their office only to have them blast their theme song of the week – often Beyonce’s “Before I Let Go” or Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried”. After the song ended, we’d push repeat and dance it out.

Dance. It. Out.

Say what?

I know, I know. And yes, it actually happens. Granted, who doesn’t want to leave pumped up after an office visit?!


Photo by Wes Hicks

My Specialization Year involves a helluva lot of extra classes, workshops, assignments, and real-life commitments on my end so I opted to choose three theme songs to keep on rotation this semester (brilliant idea, right?). Here, take a peek:

Shhh. Never mind my vast music preferences; I listen to A LOT of different genres (though, I tend to gravitate more towards Americana on the daily – just an FYI. Seriously though, just hand me a fiddle, an acoustic guitar, and we’re golden.). Interestingly, what these songs all have in common are upbeat rhythms putting me in a mood of motivation and momentum – just enough to get me back on track when I’m needing a little bit of a boost, a breather, some grounding, and a much-needed reframe.


Photo by Andre Hunter

Now that you know one secret to the success of some students and faculty at UNC SSW, what are your theme songs to plow through stress?

Keep it real.


P.S. This is a reblog; the original blog can be found here: UNC Ambassadors


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