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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Drama Mama: Hurrah for the IT department!
August 29, 2008 - 5:00am

Hurrah for the IT department! I never thought I would say that about any IT department anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy technology and try to learn as much as I can about it. Mostly I try to learn new innovative ways technology can be used in my classroom. I am currently exploring using Facebook and Skype to have virtual meetings with students, video conferencing for team taught classes and the unique applications of blogs and wikis. It’s all very exciting! Yet, in my past – there have been times where (at my last institution) IT and I have been, well, at odds. I used to always dread calling the IT help line – the confused students, the frustrated supervisors, the long waits. In person and in a casual atmosphere, they always seemed like such approachable people, but the moment they figured out that you are trying to get something out of them – whammo, they seemed to grow tired of you and all your problems. That was my experiences of IT guys/gals in general. That is until I came here.

I have been going through the long and painful process of a name change. I am already so annoyed with the whole name change thing (super easy when you get married, impossible if you ever divorce) that I already came to the table weary of the struggle. As I began, payroll had my old name and I had to wrestle with HR to get my soon to be new name accepted into the system. But every system is different, from the web mail to blackboard to user name for the desk top in my office – let’s just say I have been plaguing the poor IT department here for months as I’ve tried in vain to make myself and my new name known. It’s been a struggle but there are only a few small changes left to make.

This past week I asked for a consultation on blackboard and the IT Blackboard Specialist came to my office and helped me figure out a few details of the new version I will be using this fall. He was quiet but extremely helpful and I was happy with the results of the meeting. A few days later I received an email from him that said he had received a request to change my name in Blackboard. He helpfully said he noticed I had a hyphenated name and wondered if I had spoken to HR about the name change. I related to him my saga of divorce and name change and courts and the payroll department. In short – I told him I was working on it, and thanks for the info. The next day I received another email.

He wrote that he was sorry to hear about my divorce. He also wrote much about how marriages are all difficult and he even wrote a little about his life and marriage - now in its 10th year. He was amazingly kind. Especially for someone I’d met once. He went on to ask about my son and to say children are much more resilient then we usually think. He ended wishing me well and assured me that they have a strong service ethic in IT and that I should not feel embarrassed about asking that the system reflects what I want to be called.

Sometimes we working moms, academic moms and single moms don’t need that much to make us happy. We do need nursing facilities and maternity leave and on-campus daycare. But sometimes a kind word can go a long way. I’ll always remember the airline stewardess who said I won the award for packing light and traveling with a toddler. I’ll always remember the farmer who gave me free nectarines at the farmers market because I was managing a sleeping toddler and bags of fresh fruits so “gracefully”. And I will always remember the quiet IT guy who said that I should not be embarrassed to ask for what I need. Sometimes it doesn’t take much. Like I said, Hurrah for the IT department!


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