Pulling double duty

Pulling double duty

An upcoming event aims to help graduate students and post-doctoral fellows balance their family and scholarly lives. 

By Phil Gaudreau

May 15, 2018


[Leena Yahia]
Leena Yahia and her husband are both doctoral candidates, and they have four children together. They are helping to organize a workshop for fellow graduate students who are also parents. (University Communications)

Long nights, years of hard work, and plenty of life lessons along the way – graduate studies and parenting have a lot in common. For those who are furthering their education and raising their kids, it can be a challenge to keep up with both responsibilities.

That’s why the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) is co-organizing an upcoming workshop to help students and post-docs who are parents, or who want to become parents, with resources, wisdom, and an opportunity to discuss ideas that would help them keep it all on track.

“The idea for the workshop was developed with the Graduate Student Life Advisory Group – a collaboration of students, faculty, and student services staff who work together to enhance the graduate student experience at Queen’s,” says Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “We hope that the event will be an opportunity for the community of parents to meet one another and form a network of support.”

Leena Yahia and her husband are both Queen’s doctoral candidates and they have four children together. After noticing many of their friends and colleagues having similar struggles, they formed a support network and approached the SGS about holding an event on campus.

“We want our kids to have the best experience, while also wanting to be the best students,” says Ms. Yahia. “Rather than complain, we decided to be socially innovative and put something together – and the SGS was very responsive in helping us organize the event.”

The event will begin at 8:30 on Friday morning in room A234 of Duncan McArthur Hall, and will include discussions on time management, stress and mental health, mentorship, existing supports and gaps, and funding. A panel discussion will feature faculty members and post-doctoral fellows balancing caregiving and academic responsibilities, as well as graduate students – like Ms. Yahia – who are studying and parenting simultaneously.

Ms. Yahia notes that, while her graduate studies take time away from her children, it has brought the family together and taught her children to depend on each other and themselves. Plus, she has been able to introduce them to the possibilities of a university education.

“My daughter wants to be a scientist and is keeping in touch with my professors,” she says. “My teenage son wants to be a geneticist and sees what it is to get a university education...he sees that his dream is a not-too-distant reality.”

Ultimately, Ms. Yahia hopes this conversation will spark more discussions about how to make studies at Queen’s more family-friendly through different approaches to conference funding, class scheduling, and spaces for graduate study parents to meet.

Learn more about the event, and register, on the School of Graduate Studies website.