“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.
“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.”
Preparing for the Future She Chooses.
As she comes closer to her military retirement, Candice has begun working toward the future she wants for her and her family. Candice is earning her MBA online from WSU to advance her current skills while preparing for a rewarding and flexible career that brings her joy. She chose Washington State for several reasons, including its dedicated and inspiring student support specialist, the flexible online format, and the expert faculty. As she continues going through her coursework, she finds working her studies into her busy life extremely manageable.
“I don’t have to be there for the live classes—I’m listening to it on my phone, on my drive into work,” she says, “I do my homework during my lunch hour so that I still have plenty of free time with my family when I get home. I also knew a of couple people who were already attending WSU and they had really great things to say.”
Candice is also pleased with how accessible her professors are. An added surprise was that she could change professors if she felt another might be a better fit for the same class.
When asked if she had anything to say to those who have doubted her along the way, she responded, “Call me. I have no problem looking back and showing people that I didn’t take it personally, I still don’t, and if they need/want it, I can help them move forward.”