“I Just Do It Anyway.”
Online MBA, Class of 2023
Master Sergeant Washington Air National Guard
For the past 16 years, Candice Borek has proudly served in the U.S. military. With only eight years left until her retirement from active duty, she decided to pursue her Online MBA from Washington State University. As an enlisted member of the armed forces, she has followed orders for most of her career and is more than ready to choose her own future.
“I’ve been told what to do for many years now, and I want to get to choose to do something that brings me a little bit of joy,” she says, “and (studying online) gives me the flexibility to be around my 15-year-old son with special needs—I want to be able to have time to enjoy him.”
Assertive Not Grumpy.
Candice has three other children at home and plenty of extracurricular activities that keep everyone busy. Together with her amazing husband, they handle sports practices, games, meals, homework, and household chores. At home, there aren’t gender roles; in the military it’s quite different.
“When there’s a project that might involve working late or traveling, I’m always asked, ‘But what about your kids? Don’t your kids have a soccer game tonight? Who is watching your kids?’ I don’t think I’ve ever heard them ask one of my male counterparts those questions.”
After facing these questions repeatedly for years, Candice just stopped listening. She just did the work—she just got things done. And people around her were so surprised. Even after her years working as a data analyst, co-workers seemed amazed that she could have a family and a successful career too. Was it magic? No, she says, it was the result of hard work, effective project and time management, and well-honed expertise. When they’re not questioning her availability or commitment due to her being a mother, some people equate her leadership qualities and assertiveness with being grumpy, not professional.
“When I’m strong and assertive, which is exactly what the military tells you to be, it’s thrown back at me because I’m female. I’m grumpy, moody or the other five-letter word that starts with a ‘B.’”
Despite gender-based expectations or perceived obstacles, Candice has excelled and earned promotions relatively quickly. Currently an E7 master sergeant, she is five to 10 years younger than most NCOs with the same rank. Challenges have presented themselves because of her age and gender, but Candice hasn’t allowed anything or anyone to hold her back. In fact, she is up for a promotion to senior master sergeant in the next month or so.