It Takes a Village
PROVO, Utah – Nov 26, 2019 – As the titleholder for the most family-friendly MBA program for the fourteenth year in a row, BYU Marriott works to cultivate an environment that helps students balance both their rigorous coursework and their families. With 70 percent of BYU MBA students married, BYU's Master of Business Administration Spouse Association (MBASA) connects spouses of MBA students with a built-in network and support system of others in similar life circumstances.
Through weekly activities, service opportunities, play dates, group nights out, and everything in between, MBASA works to make everyone feel included during their spouse’s time in the MBA program. “Your spouse is gone a lot. They're out late working on case competitions, studying, networking, and going to conferences. You're alone a lot,” says MBASA’s current president Jacquie Erickson. “When you move and don't know anybody, you can get stuck in your own house. This association gets people out and connected to other people.”
Erickson knows firsthand how special the association can be for spouses of new MBA students. When her husband, Denver, started his MBA degree, Erickson found the transition difficult. “I've always struggled with postpartum depression—it was scary for me to have a new baby and come into this new program and not have a village or people I could turn to,” says Erickson. “I started going to MBASA events and activities, and there were people supporting me who had been through similar experiences. The group became my friends and my village.” After being welcomed to the association with open arms her first year, Erickson became president the following year, committed to help others feel as supported as she initially did.
One of MBASA’s largest events is the Gifts of the Heart Exchange. Three or four times a year, the association plans a large clothing drive for the community. Last year a family walked in, and none of children were wearing shoes. “Not only did the family leave with shoes, but also clothes and whatever else they needed as well,” says Erickson.
Erickson recalls another experience when the MBASA had the opportunity to serve an MBA family expecting triplets. “The mother was put on bedrest while living on the third floor of her apartment, and her husband had to be in class a lot, so it was a difficult situation,” she explains. A fellow MBA family on the first floor offered to switch apartments, and with the help of MBASA, the two families switched apartments in a day. The association also provided meals and support while the husband was gone. “Life still happens in the MBA,” says Erickson. “But the association creates a family atmosphere so your family can get the support it needs.”
In addition to regular activities and events the MBASA board plans throughout the week, spouses also get together for more low-key meetups. “The big events are fun, and the workshops are helpful, but it's those little moments of like, ‘Hey, things are really hard right now. Who wants to run out and get a chocolate-chip cookie with me?’ that make a big difference for me,” says Erickson.
BYU MBA students and their spouses are automatically added to MBASA upon acceptance into the program. For Erickson, her involvement in the MBASA helped her find her village. She hopes the association can help spouses adjust to and thrive in a life in the MBA program. “When you’re put in a supportive role and your spouse is taking the time to accomplish a big goal or follow a dream, you can often feel like your job is to just be a cheerleader,” says Erickson. “But during that time, you can also be bettering yourself, magnifying your talents, and doing a lot of good in the world.”
Erickson hopes every MBA spouse finds their village in the association. “If MBA students don't get involved in the association, they're missing out on an opportunity to strengthen their family for after graduation,” says Erickson. “Life after the MBA is still going to be hard, but MBASA gives you tools and resources so you can continue to thrive.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Natasha Ramirez