Women graduate students overcome stereotypes in pursuit of goals

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    By Sara Noelle On

    For some graduates, life after an undergraduate degree means school is out, test taking is over and it is time to find a job that pays over $6 an hour.

    For some women, school is anything but over.

    “I”ve always wanted a graduate degree … the great thing about any graduate degree is the skills you can use in all parts of your life — incredible life skills,” said Heather Lau, a second year graduate student in the Masters in Business Administration program and the first woman president of the MBA Association at BYU.

    “I see it as an opportunity to better myself and gain experiences,” she said.

    Rachael McKinnon, a second year graduate student in the MBA program at BYU, sees her pursuit of a graduate degree as a great example to her children.

    “If I never have to work a day in my life, I”ll be grateful for my degree because it will teach my kids the importance of getting an education,” McKinnon said.

    Jennifer Sorensen, a second year graduate student in the MBA program at BYU, initially felt intimidated by the thought of going back to school, but has since changed her mind.

    “I”m just glad I chose to do it. I”m glad I came back to school. It opened a lot of doors for me,” she said.

    Debra Ruse, the advisor for the Women in Management Association at BYU, said she felt any graduate program is going to help a woman, especially as a preparatory tool.

    “I don”t think women should ever, ever feel bad about going back to school. You just never know what is going to happen. Getting married is never a guarantee for being taken care of,” Ruse said.

    An advanced degree may not be for everybody, however, Lau says.

    “What it comes down to is it”s a personal decision. The Lord knows what”s ahead,” she said. “It”s been a great opportunity to develop my leadership abilities that will be a great asset in the future to the church, community and my family.”

    Sorensen said pursuing a graduate degree is not for everyone, just like serving a mission.

    “There”s a lot of ways we can continue to grow and pursuing a degree is just one of those,” Sorensen said.

    Some women feel pressure from members of the LDS Church to pursue a degree, McKinnon said.

    “Some women can be especially hard on other women who get advanced degrees,” she said. “Twenty years ago, some might have told you that you”re keeping a man from entering this program and being able to provide for his family, but that”s not prevalent now.”

    After writing a 30-page paper researching LDS women who continue their education, along with what the General Authorities have said about obtaining an education and staying at home with their children, McKinnon came to one conclusion.

    “What I really found is, ”Why is there a spiritual dilemma?” We”ve been given two things that are contradictory, but we have always been given contradictory doctrines since the time of Adam and Eve,” she said. “The prophets will not give us all the answers, and I feel it forces us to go to the Lord to find out what the right answer may be for us.”

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