Chris Childers and family

Balancing Fatherhood and an MBA

Chris Childers had friends and co-workers that returned to school to pursue a master’s degree, but his thoughts were always the same. Why would they take on that unnecessary time and financial commitment? He was already doing well in his role in the engineering department at CSX Transportation, and he had a wife and two kids at home.

A conversation with his boss changed Childers’ perspective. During an annual performance review, his boss suggested returning to school – specifically the UF MBA program – to further his education, broaden his skillset and open doors for further advancement. Childers’ mind returned to the same place. Was it worth the money and the time commitment to be away from his wife and two young children?

“That week I started really researching programs, but I knew that he was right,” Childers said. “A degree from UF would certainly align with my goals and provide a lot more opportunities in this area in particular, which was important to me. It was also amazing how many people I knew at work had also received their MBA through the Professional program at work. It all just sort of snowballed from there. I was hooked.”

That didn’t change the time predicament. Childers was already forced the make the most of every second with his daughter Camryn, 5, and son Asher, 3, after returning home from the office on weekdays. With the UF MBA Weekend Professional program requiring one trip to Gainesville per month, that would also mean giving up that weekend with his kids.

“I hate missing that time with them,” Childers said. “Not to mention the two-week cycle can be pretty exhausting because you know you won’t get a break until the following weekend. However, my wife has probably taken on the biggest challenge of all. She has had to really carry the torch on those weekends. Having kids that young can be difficult on two parents, let alone doing it all by yourself.” 

Instead of Childers experiencing life as a University of Florida student by himself, he and his wife, Mackenzie, decided to turn it into a family event as often as possible.

“My wife and I have always tried to keep the kids involved in everything we do,” Childers said. “She has brought the kids down to Gainesville for a weekend to walk around the campus which was really neat, and we took them to watch the Gators play Alabama this season in basketball which was a lot of fun. My wife and I go to almost every UF home football game, and we’ve taken my parents with us a time or two.  It’s been a great experience for me and the whole family.”

After receiving his bachelor’s in business administration from Marshall University, the Weekend Professional program was a simple reintroduction to the classroom setting. The program introduced him to some of the top faculty members at the Warrington College of Business and provided an in-depth look at business concepts he deals with on a daily basis.

“It had been a long time since I sat in the classroom and I just remember feeling so blown away by how knowledgeable and passionate the instructors were in all the classes,” Childers said. “They all want you to succeed. I remember being so impressed at how much time they were giving up on their weekends themselves, but it didn’t seem to deter them from bringing the energy and focus necessary to keep a class of young professionals engaged for 4-5 hours at a time.”

When he signed up for the program, Childers’ goal was simply to continue working and provide for his family. However, the experience has also introduced him to knowledgeable faculty and a strong network of peers that can also help in his professional future.

“I never took on this challenge to get a fancy promotion at work or any sort of special recognition,” Childers said. “I just wanted to make sure that my kids were afforded every opportunity in life that I could possibly provide to them, and I knew I had to continue working for a great company, and an MBA from University of Florida is going to help me do that.”