Parent Spotlight: Doing it All as Evening MBA Students and Parents – Part Two

In this Parent Spotlight, four third-year evening MBA students share with us what it is like to be a parent in the program. Part Two highlights the second two students, Natalie and Altaf. Their stories, outlook, and work ethic is inspiring, and their support systems strong! It’s been a special experience learning more about each of their families and lives… enjoy!

 Thank you so much for agreeing to open your lives a bit, and share with us what it’s like for you to be a parent and an Evening MBA student at Foster. To start, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and your family?

 Natalie: My husband, Evan, and I have been married for seven years and we just had our daughter, Bryn Amelia Cook. Bryn is brand new, born on June 30, 2017.  I found out I was pregnant early in fall quarter of my second year in the Evening program. Luckily, my due date (June 18) was ten days after Spring quarter ended and I didn’t need to adjust my schedules too much to accommodate. My husband is self-employed and works from home and will care for Bryn while I’m in class.

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Altaf: We are a family of three. Along with me, there’s my wife Yakuta and our two-year-old son Arhaan. Arhaan was born three months before our first year at Foster began. So yes, I knew what was in store when I applied and accepted the MBA admission at Foster. Fortunately for Yakuta and I, we had a few months to prepare before I started the program and get through the initial jolt of cluelessness, sleepless nights, and constant diaper changes. I think I, and more importantly Yakuta, had mentally prepared ourselves for a hard first year of my school. I think having Arhaan as an infant during the first year of school was a little easier than if we had landed ourselves into starting a family in the middle of the program.

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You’re now in your third year of the program. How have you made it through thus far? What can you share about your support system?

 Natalie: My husband is a saint and took wonderful care of me through my pregnancy. He constantly reminded me I could keep going without having to take time off school, made sure I was fed, and told me to rest when I needed to. Additionally, all my classmates were very understanding, especially my team. Bryn was exactly three months old when Fall quarter started and I have had no plans to take time off from school. I’m also fortunate to have excellent parental leave and I won’t be returning to work until after graduation.

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Altaf: We have had a great support system. In keeping with Indian culture, we had both sides of the family visiting and helping in the house for the first six months after Arhaan was born, and with my brother living a couple miles away there was always a helping hand when needed. That level of support definitely took some of the edge off.

Natalie, you just had Bryn this summer! What resources at Foster have you taken advantage of? How have the students, the MBA office, and the professors supported you?

Natalie: When I learned I was pregnant, I made a point of talking to Kara Fichthorn (Evening MBA Director of Student Affairs) about any contingencies I may need. The evening program at Foster is very supportive of families. Taking a quarter off or taking less credits per quarter is easy and supported. I also made a point of talking to my professors early in that quarter. They were more than willing to accommodate in case of any emergency or early delivery.

I have yet to meet anyone in the program that isn’t supportive of their classmates who are parents. I’ve had a few teammates bring their children to group meeting and most people are willing to work around parent schedules to get projects done. I’ve also participated in several conversations on where to get the best prices on diapers (for anyone interested Amazon wins most of the time)!

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Altaf, you juggled a lot your first year, and you and your wife still made it a priority to attend many Foster events, even when Arhaan was an only a few months old. You are always having so much fun!

Altaf: It’s been a roller coaster! There have been times when one of us has reached a breakdown point, especially the first year when I was juggling demanding coursework and weekend team meetings, and while Yakuta was managing having a baby at home and juggling a job change.  But we have both made a conscious effort to try and do as much as possible at Foster to make sure that we don’t miss out on some of the unique experiences. There have definitely been some amazing moments through the past two years including dressing our little baby as superman for the Halloween TG (the TG’s are monthly parties for Full Time and Evening MBA students) as well as dancing through the night at the Bollywood TG with him in the baby pouch the entire time. It’s been a busy schedule for the two of us between work, school, and time at home with the little one, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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Huge thank you to Natalie and Altaf for their thoughtful responses!

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