For five years I debated on graduate school. Would an MBA be best or should I pursue something more specific like digital marketing? I waffled: do I really have the time to do this? I have forgotten all of my high school and college math, how am I ever going to pass the GMAT? That seemed daunting enough, let alone figuring out how to choose the best program for me. One cold January day, I learned about a preview day at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Wow, Vanderbilt. There’s no way I’m smart enough to get in there. But, hey, I might as well go get a free lunch. Feeling intimated pulling up on campus and walking in by myself, I walked away knowing this program is exactly what I had been looking for. Hmm, maybe I can do this after all. I got to work… I studied and passed my prep exam, I gathered recommendations and belabored over essays, made it through an intimidating interview with the executive director, and then waited. It turns out when you get out of your own way (i.e. don’t listen to all of those negative thoughts running through your head) you CAN be good enough, you ARE smart enough, and you CAN get into Vanderbilt!
Right before ‘Week in Residence’ in New Harmony, Indiana, I found out I was pregnant. How in the world am I going to get through this with a baby?! The first person I told my news to was the Executive MBA Director of Admissions, not my husband. (It’s hilarious now…) We talked through options to delay my start and went through examples of other pregnant women who made it through the program. Her advice: “Don’t delay. You can do it. It’s only going to get harder.”
With a never-going-away-hangover (aka “morning sickness”), a full-time job, and having a husband on a 2-month rotational deployment (2 months home, 2 months away), I made it through 1.5 semesters before having my bundle of joy. It was intimidating enough juggling work and school demands, so figuring out how to care for a newborn (and myself as a new Mom, for that matter) on top of that felt insane. But I wanted all of these things badly enough that I was determined to juggle it all, newborn-in-tow, the remaining 3.5 semesters.
While figuring out how to launch a venture and taking 5 other classes in the Fall of 2019, at work I was occupied with a corporate brand refresh, new website, designing a new 20×20 exhibit booth with 4 interactive monitors, and planning a killer party at the National Workers’ Compensation & Disability Conference. Just preparing for National Comp is normally a full-plate of work. I stretched myself beyond my comfort zone, and I’m thankful I didn’t really think about what I was doing. LOL
Seriously, you can do anything you aspire with dedication and grinding it out!
There were moments that were manageable; moments I thought for sure I wasn’t going to make it; and moments where I was carried by my support system (Mother-in-Law, Mom, Husband, best friends I’m looking at you!). They listened to my angst, watched my baby as often as needed (including spending 12 hours in a classroom so I could breastfeed), and lifted me up when the stress and demands were too much to bear.
As of May 2020, I am the proud recipient of a Masters’ Degree in Business Administration (MBA). And I’m most gratified that I am laying a strong foundation for my baby girl who already knows what it takes to accomplish a goal.
Do not forget that you are an inspiration to those around you. Sometimes you are carrying someone and sometimes you are the one being carried, figuratively of course. These small (and sometimes time-intensive) acts of kindness and love made a difference in my life. You don’t need a fancy title to change the world. Each of us can do a little bit to change what is around us, whether it is a simple act of kindness for a friend or family member or encouraging a colleague at work.
Remember, you can do anything you put your mind to – talk positively and believe in yourself!
Katie Holmes Bailey
Marketing Director for Prime Health Services, Inc.