To celebrate Mother's Day, we caught up with the Kellogg moms, which include Amanda Barber, Andrea Valin Acuna, Archana Morrison, Evelyn Bustillos, Gloria Jin, Huihui Liu, Laura Lukens, Liron Snai, Maria Skufait and expecting mother MJ Arroyo, in order to hear what life is like as a mom and student. Everyone here talks about just how hard it is to do it all -- so how these incredible women are able to make it work is an inspiration to us all!
Was it intimidating to start Kellogg as a mom?
I had always thought business school would be a great time to have a family, so I wasn’t intimidated until I learned there weren’t many mothers in the program. The Kellogg Kids group is huge, so I was surprised to find out that so few of the student-parents are mothers. It also didn’t help that soon after getting into Kellogg, I attended a Kellogg-sponsored event in Chicago for new admits. I was 6 months pregnant and asked a recent alum if she had known many parents at Kellogg—she said yes, “the student-Dads are a lot of fun, but the problem is when the mom is the student. No one can relate to them.” You can’t make this stuff up!
- Laura Lukens
No, it wasn’t intimidating starting at Kellogg while pregnant. There is this misconception that pregnancy and motherhood is limiting, but in my case I mountain biked, I hiked a glacier in Iceland during KWEST, I performed with my section during CIM, I did Yoga at the hub, I partied during Fall Ball, I attended the lunch and learns, I went to the happy hours and I recruited along with my peers... all while pregnant. After the birth of my baby, I have continued to partake in Kellogg activities. We both attended the Women’s Global Summit! I was never concerned or intimidated with my ability to get things done. What was a bit of a concern was to get excluded from activities once people knew I was pregnant because of misconceptions around maternity (e.g. people thinking they were doing me a favor by not inviting me to something they perceived as inappropriate for a pregnant woman).
- Evelyn Bustillos
How do you approach balancing everything that Kellogg offers with the responsibilities of motherhood?
My daughter was 5 months when I started Kellogg, and my 1st quarter was very difficult. I was constantly questioning how much time to invest in studying, extracurriculars, recruiting, socializing and being a mom. No matter what decision I made, it felt like the wrong one. I was also pumping breastmilk on campus each day, and my daughter wasn’t yet sleeping through the night, so these things didn’t help either! By 2nd quarter, I found my rhythm, and things only continue to get easier. Yes, there are many constraints on my schedule, but I love the flexibility that being in school offers.
- Laura Lukens
Prioritizing has been key. I personally go through seasons where I prioritize one thing over the other (Kellogg over family or family over Kellogg). I truly believe you can have it all, but not at the same time. And being content and happy with the choice you make in each season is important.
- Archana Morrison
Has the Kellogg community been supportive?
We are supportive within the group of Kellogg moms but there are too few of us. Being a Kellogg mom is different from being a Kellogg dad and obviously from being a student without children. So, not surprisingly there is some room for improvement in this domain. First, in terms of events being child friendly and second, would be the number of moms in the b-school.
- Maria Skufati
Kellogg has been a very supportive place -- flexible group meetings, Kellogg kids & parents, supportive faculty, and beyond all that an amazing group of peers who constantly encourage and inspire me both as a parent and business leader. Who knew “Negotiation and Leading Strategic Change Concepts” would also help you as a parent!
- Archana Morrison
What are your thoughts on motherhood and building a high-pressure career – how do you think about work-life balance??
It is great to combine motherhood with career! Because it is the best way to prepare your child (especially a daughter) for her success in the future and maybe even become a role model for her. I deliberately selected not the most time-consuming industry. It will be challenging, but this is where the mutual respect and support with my husband will help.
- Maria Skufati
As with most things, it’s a matter of trade-offs and priorities; each family has to decide how to allocate their resources (be it time, emotional energy, financial etc.) to what makes them the happiest. I found I’ve been more mindful than ever in making company culture a big part of my decision to join a firm. With competing priorities, making sure I saw role models and informal cues that showed the organization truly respected working families (like seeing a male colleague leave every day at 5pm from a consulting engagement with absolutely no negative repercussions or even attitude from the team) made me feel comfortable this would be a good fit in the long term. It is very different for a company to say they value diversity and want to retain women than to have a living culture that enables that for working parents.
- MJ Arroyo