School, Work, Family: A USU Alumnus Reflects Back on Balancing It All

David Garrett Utah State University

David Garrett is a Utah State University alumnus. In 2011, he graduated with dual master’s degrees in Applied Economics and Food and Agribusiness.

While Garrett enjoyed his time studying at USU and is grateful for the opportunity he had to pursue higher education, he, like many graduate students, learned how difficult it can be to find balance in life while in school.

Garrett was established in a successful career and running his own business when he decided to pursue a master’s degree.

“I told my wife I was thinking of retiring,” Garrett said, “She responded, ‘By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.’”

Following this conversation with his wife, Garrett decided to pursue his dream of working in the agricultural side of business.

Garrett drove to USU’s Logan campus to learn about the degree options available to him, because in his words, “They’re called the Aggies after all, right?”

Once in Logan, Garrett learned about the dual degree program between Applied Economics and Food and Agribusiness, and decided it was right for him.

To earn both degrees, Garrett would need to spend six months studying at the Royal Agricultural College in England.

This meant relocating his family and leaving his business in the capable hands of his partners, while he ran it on the side, fitting work in between taking classes, preparing for tests and writing a more than 100-page thesis.

The transitions from America to England and from self-made business man to student were difficult at times, but Garrett spoke fondly of his time spent in England.

“It was lots of fun,” Garrett said. “My wife saw every castle in England, and my daughter now considers herself a world-traveler.”

Steven Lucero, a psychologist at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at USU, said spending time with family and engaging in self-care activities such as sight-seeing and enjoying nature, like Garrett did, are important tools to deal with the stress of graduate school.

“Graduate students across a variety of departments may find it increasingly helpful to more purposefully invest in self-care activities that may have fallen by the way-side as other demands on their time increase,” Lucero said.

Suggestions of self-care techniques include talking with a trusted individual about your life, practicing mindfulness, spending time in nature, engaging in meaningful hobbies, or anything which reduces stress for you, as an individual.

Lucero said most graduate students do not recognize the benefit of practicing self-care until they experience the negative consequences of neglecting it.

Despite the challenges faced while trying to balance various aspects of life, Garrett said he is happy he chose to pursue his degrees, and he believes his life will be enhanced because of it.

“I’ve always believed ‘if you build it they will come’,” Garrett said. “In my life, I believed if I went back to school, good things would come to me later.”

For information about self-care, mindfulness and how to effectively balance school, work and life, visit the Counseling and Psychological Services Center website.

Students can also learn about the workshops presented by the Counseling Center here.