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“Doing It All” During a Pandemic

Balancing graduate school, full-time work, and parenthood is never easy, but add a global pandemic to the mix and you have a pretty challenging set of circumstances. MBA student Emily Roback has handled all that and more, having given birth to her daughter during the pandemic, while working and attending classes at Southern.

Roback, who is program director with Yale Conferences and Events, is on track to receive her MBA from Southern this spring.

She is also the 2021-22 YUWO Scholar, one of two women currently attending Southern with support from the Yale University Women’s Organization’s (YUWO) annual scholarship program. Over the past 50 years, YUWO has awarded 364 scholarships totaling over half a million dollars to women attending a wide range of schools, earning advanced certificates and degrees from community colleges, universities, and accredited online programs. According to Jane Shaw, YUWO Scholarship Committee Chair, since 2004 YUWO has awarded scholarships to 19 YUWO scholars who attended Southern.

Eligible applicants for the scholarships work at Yale or have an immediate family member who does, or they have an affiliation with Yale as a former student or graduate.

Roback has been working at Yale since 2014, beginning with Yale Hospitality and moving to Yale Conferences & Events in 2017. At YC&E, Roback managed summer programs, bringing 1500 students to campus, as well as academic-year programs at the Greenberg Conference Center. Additionally, she introduced a new infrastructure for recording and automating client communication, invoicing, and payment.

“We are proud to offer our support to Emily as she works to receive her MBA from Southern Connecticut State University,” said Shaw.

Roback discusses her education and what the past two years have been like for her as she has navigated work, school, and being a new mother:

Why did you decide to come to Southern for your MBA? Where are you in the program?

I decided to come to Southern for a few reasons. Having graduated from another school in the CSU system, Eastern Connecticut, I was already thrilled with the education the CSU system provides. Southern’s proximity to my office and their flexibility with night and online classes was attractive to me as well. My plan is to graduate this summer with my MBA.

What has it been like to work full time, attend school, and be a mother – all during a pandemic?

Now that we are hopefully coming out of the pandemic, I can finally look back at the last 2 years in awe that I was able to accomplish what I did. Having a newborn, returning to work remotely, and finishing my degree would have been no small feat. Adding a layer of isolation and all the other stressors that the pandemic brought was really challenging. I am so grateful for my mom, dad, and sister who continued to support me even from afar, and my husband who has done so many dinners, bedtimes, and kept our family running when I needed to focus on other things. I unequivocally could not have done any of it without their help.

I understand that your mother is your role model when it comes to balancing parenthood, education, and career. Can you tell me specifically how she inspires you?

I never understood the sacrifices my mom had to make until I became a parent myself. She completed her master’s in public health, wrote and published her thesis, all while working full-time, raising two young children, and coping with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. She never missed a school concert, party, or extracurricular activity. Now that I am balancing parenthood, school, work, and life, I realize how hard that time in her life must have been. She continues to inspire me to keep learning and growing and looking for my next adventure.

How do you see your MBA degree helping you on your career path?

The classes I’ve taken in the MBA program have really helped open my eyes to thinking more strategically, both personally and professionally. I see my MBA degree helping me become a more informed manager and start thinking proactively rather than reactionarily. I’ve also learned a lot about the culture of organizations and how it’s directly correlated to their success. I think having this understanding will help me approach new challenges with a view about the importance of the people and not just the job.

What are your plans for after you complete your degree?

I am excited to apply my skills learned in the MBA program in my current role as Program Director with Yale Conferences and Events. I have had the opportunity to be mentored by other strong women leaders in my department who have also supported me through my MBA journey, and I plan to pay it forward to new managers who may be interested in furthering their education.

Visit www.yuwowomen.org to download the YUWO Scholarship application and email the completed application to scholarships@yuwowomen.org. Completed applications are due by March 31, 2022.


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