When Rachel Pacubas made the decision to go back to school, it wasn’t easy. She worked full time in the human resources department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, had two young daughters, and in her words “had a life.” But on a whim, she called Baker University to learn about start dates and degrees, and by the time she hung up the phone, she was enrolled to start her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree just five days later.

“I had been thinking about it for a long time,” Pacubas, MAOL ’17, said. “Now that I’m done and can sit back and take a breath for a minute, I’m so happy I did it. I think the fear in my mind was what kept me from going back for so long. I wondered ‘can I do this?’ but then I got into it and it was the perfect fit.”

Pacubas’ main motivation for returning to school was to increase her credibility in the workplace. As someone who consistently talks to her peers and coworkers about career development and furthering their options, she wanted to give them an example to look toward. While balancing her family, social, and work life with her education wasn’t easy, Pacubas believes it helped her career as early as day one.

“I got to use what I learned immediately,” Pacubas said. “I know that sounds corny, but after every single class, I would turn around and use my knowledge every single day. The connections between the program and my job, in my mind, are very clear. I hope I can continue to apply the things that I’ve learned to make me a better communicator with my colleagues in different areas.”

And while it wasn’t an easy decision to make, Pacubas knows that her decision to go back to school was the right one. She believes that by waiting to go back until she had an established career not only helped her in terms of paying for her education, but it also helped her pick a master’s degree that was perfect for her.

“The program was good, the timing was great, and I was really able to study what I was interested in,” Pacubas said. “If I had gone right back to school after graduating college, I would have probably done it in public relations. By waiting a few years, I could find my niche in the workplace and find a degree to fit that skill set.”

On top of that, she hopes that her daughters will look back on their mother’s actions and be proud of the time and effort she put in to building her career.

“I would be doing my homework on my laptop and my youngest daughter would take out a magazine and say, ‘Look Mommy, I’m doing my homework too!’ ” Pacubas said. “There’s some piece of that where I hope they can look back on this time and have an example to look up to. Getting my degree was definitely a matter of balancing priorities, but I’m so happy that I did it.”