| Couple Balances Masterís, Marriage to Graduate |
Marriage means loving your spouse through sickness and health. Olga and Erik Martinez can also say they have loved each other through class presentations and group projects. The couple graduated together on May 12 from the University of St. Thomas, each with a Master of Science in Accounting.
Erik, a graduate of Texas A&M University, and Olga, a graduate of the University of Houston, both had full-time jobs while working to achieve their master's degrees and raising their 10-month-old son, Nicholas.
"I started classes in January 2009, and Erik started in January 2010," Olga said. "After I had the baby, I slowed down my classes and he caught up with me. We decided to graduate together and it was a huge accomplishment and a great memory we'll have forever."
Erik, to speed up his graduation date, took 12 hours in his final semester, kept his full-time job and welcomed the challenge of becoming a father.
"Prioritizing, time management, taking care of school work, maintaining high levels at my job and making my wife happy was a real challenge," Erik said. "It was a full-time job in and of itself. To balance all these activities at one time and excel is very challenging, but it is doable."
Married for almost five years, the Martinezes were able to take 12 hours of classes together. Olga enjoyed having Erik in her classes as someone to lean on and work with.
"I would choose him to be in my group because we could meet at home," Olga said. "Our schedules were the same, so I think it was a great benefit. If I missed some notes or didn't understand, he was a classmate I had with me all the time."
Through his classes, Erik gained valuable experience in giving presentations to business leaders and students. Currently, Erik is a financial analysis manager at Lufkin Industries. He attributes his developed skills to Dr. John Simms, assistant professor of accounting in the Cameron School of Business, which boasts business accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
"Working hand-in-hand with Dr. Simms was really important," Erik said. "It allowed me to grow in my research and presentation skills. It opened up my future to become a certified public accountant."
Because of her new degree Olga was recently promoted to a corporate intercompany accountant at National Oilwell Varco. A native of Russia, Olga had a unique class experience because she had to endure the early part of her pregnancy while on campus. After Nicholas was born, it was difficult to sacrifice time with her new son.
"I didn't want to leave my newborn alone for a minute," Olga said. "Our parents were extremely helpful with watching Nicholas while we were at work during the day and at UST during the evenings. As a mother myself, taking classes and working made me be more serious and concentrate. I had to think about my future because now it wasn't just me and my husband."
Erik also kept his thoughts focused on his goal of graduating and creating a happy life for his wife and child.
"Being a father was motivation to try to better my son's future as well as mine," Erik said. "It was very exciting. We're glad we finished, and we're on to the next chapter in our lives."