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Double life as mother and student

Being a mother is not easy. Neither is studying. Shivangi Gujarr, who has just completed her studies with us, has mastered both at the same time – and told our blog editor Madeleine Krehahn about it.

Shivangi Gujarr started her Big Data & Business Analytics studies a week after her pregnancy test came back positive.

Shivangi Gujarr is probably one of the most impressive young women you can meet at SRH University Heidelberg. In addition to her full-time job as a student of Big Data & Business Analytics, she has also been a full-time mother since the beginning of her studies. She talks about the path she has taken together with her daughter Miheeka, her education at SRH University Heidelberg and her decision to leave her home country.

Why was it important for you to combine studying and bringing up your child?

It was a big struggle for me to stay away from my family to get an education in Germany. My husband could not come with me due to the pandemic and had to stay in India. But it was always my goal to work hard and reach higher positions in my professional career. I did my Bachelor’s degree in electronics and telecommunications, but I was more attracted to computer science. After working for two different companies in the IT industry for almost seven years, I decided to pursue postgraduate education at a foreign university to further improve my skills. After some research, it was clear to me: it should be a Master’s degree in Germany.

I passed my IELTS exam and secured admission to the M.Sc. programme. Subsequently, my visa for Germany was approved. Just a week before I was scheduled to fly to Germany – with my packing practically completed – came this sweet surprise: I was pregnant!

They say that fairy tales always have a turning point, and this was my personal turning point.

I stuck to my decision to do the Master’s degree and convinced my family members as well.

I believe that the true nature and character of a person is revealed when he or she goes through a difficult phase in life. I think, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Where was your daughter when you had classes?

During my time as a student, I took my daughter to the SRH daycare centre, right on campus. I would like to thank Bettina Pauley from the International Office of SRH University Heidelberg, who helped me get admission to the daycare centre. This was the only way for me to be able to complete my studies smoothly.

How did SRH University Heidelberg support you in your decision?

I am very happy that I chose SRH University Heidelberg for my Master’s programme. All the staff here were very helpful and supported me like a family member.

In Heidelberg it is very difficult to find a flat, even more so as a single mother with a small baby. All I got was rejections! But Bettina Pauley always answered my emails, called me during the Christmas break and helped me find housing in the student dorm on campus.

So could you say that your daughter gave you the motivation to study?

Yes, definitely. The thought of giving my child a better future has always motivated me to pursue my Master’s degree.

I have always thought positively during these difficult times: I want to pass on all my positive experiences in life to my daughter!

What points have helped you to balance your already very different roles as a mother and a student?

Being a mother and a student at the same time is like leading a double life. While I was with my child outside of study time, I had to be careful not to bring the tensions of everyday study life with exams, assignments or presentations to her. I paid as much attention to her as possible, since she was spending the whole day at the daycare centre without seeing me.

I like to read, which not only helped me with studying, but also allowed me to tell and read lots of stories to my child. Positive thinking motivated me during this time. I also did regular exercise to stay healthy.

One important thing I learned during this time was: there is no substitute for hard work. Keep working hard, think positive, that’s how to achieve your goal.

I can imagine that graduation was a very special event for you.

I successfully completed my colloquium in September 2021, one month before the deadline. My graduation ceremony was then in November. My husband, whom I married in December 2013, was also finally able to come to Germany at that time. So he also attended my graduation ceremony and that became one of the best moments of my life.

I always wanted to realise my dreams beyond all limits and felt that I had achieved much more than words could express.

I thank the Almighty God for giving me the courage to lead this double life as a mother and a student. And I thank the staff of SRH University Heidelberg, my husband and my family who supported me in my decision to study abroad even after my pregnancy. Last but not least, all my friends who supported me emotionally were also important.

Thank you for the interview and for sharing your story with us!

Shivangi and her little daughter