I was 24-weeks pregnant when my first semester started at the Brandcenter. I applied to the Brandcenter for a new challenge after working as a graphic designer for a long time, but I didn’t expect that challenge to include being a pregnant woman and a new mother. I was already nervous about quitting my secure job and going back to school, and this additional layer of uncertainty made me doubt whether I made the right decision. I also wondered whether anyone else was crazy enough to go through the program while being pregnant.
I got my answer on the first day of school. In my conversation with Ashley Sommardahl, our associate director, she mentioned to me, “there have been a few new dads, but you would be the first new mom at the Brandcenter.” While this initially didn’t help with my anxiety, I also began to think about how cool this would be if I can pull it off. I still felt nervous, but it was also an opportunity to turn myself into a trailblazer, and to show the way for future pregos to join Brandcenter. So I accepted that challenge, and now here I am about to graduate with my 16-month-old son, Henry.
I might be the first one on this journey, but I was definitely not alone. I don’t think I could have done this without the support of the professors, staff, and my peers at Brandcenter. When I was pregnant, everyone here made sure my health and the health of my son was the priority. They even threw a baby shower for me that I am forever grateful for! Showering me with blessings and energy to push through the first semester. I was able to wrap up the first semester successfully a week early and took a maternity leave during the winter break.
Through this experience, I learned that being a parent is like having a full-time job, so time management became critical. I had to make sure to block off time to spend with my family. In scheduling meetings, I had to be firm in letting my teammates know that certain time slots were off limits. Also, routines became even more important than ever before in keeping me from being overwhelmed with everything.
On the other hand, being a new mom gave me a new perspective and inspirations for many of my projects, whether it’s an independent study focused on designing a service to help postpartum moms or a mixed AR experience designed for children who can’t visit the zoo during the pandemic.
In every project at Brandcenter, challenges became opportunities. But it also holds true in life. New challenges and uncertainty may give us a new story to tell, an inspiration for next projects, and a chance to meet genuine and talented people who will join us in our journey.
Sharon Byun (XD, 2021)