What program did you attend at Marymount University? When did you graduate?
I was accepted into the Master of Arts in English and Humanities program in 2017 and graduated in 2019.
What is your current job title/professional industry?
I am currently the IDIQ Operations Lead, within the Business Development department at Dev Technology Group, an information technology (IT) company based out of Reston, VA. I also just launched my own health and life coaching business, CKG Coaching.
What have you been up to since you were a student at Marymount?
A great deal! As can be expected with those experiencing life transitions in their 20s and 30s… With the completion of my masters in 2019, I left another IT company I was wildly unhappy at and began my tenure at Dev Technology. Here I have experienced a ton of growth, both professionally and personally, and am genuinely proud to be part of a company that encourages diversity in the workplace. Outside of my normal day-to-day tasks that help to capture business for the company, I am part of several employee groups – Women in Technology at Dev, the Denizens (a group that supports early-mid career professionals), the Fun Patrol, the Wellness group, the Mentorship Program, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group. Connecting to others is so important to me and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do so within my job.
I also purchased a home in Reston with my partner, Julian, and have had a lovely time cultivating a comfortable home for the two of us. Both the house-hunting and house-purchasing processes were difficult to navigate but creating a safe space where we can nurture a healthy life together has been incredible. I look forward to many more memories in our first home and am grateful for the beautiful, woodsy community that is Reston. We walk the trails almost every day and it never fails to impress.
Most recent and maybe notably, I launched my own health and life coaching business, CKG Coaching. As a former athlete and active since I can first remember, I have always had a deep connection to my body and movement. This has only deepened throughout the years, especially experiencing the ups and particularly, the downs, of my personal health journey. As such, I felt a calling to help others on their health journey, which can be filled with such overwhelm in today’s society. My aim is to help lessen the overwhelm, increase energy, naturally, and spread the message that no one is broken or needs to be fixed – that we are all simply doing the best that we can but if certain habits and patterns are no longer working for us, it is okay to acknowledge that and work to disrupt and change those patterns so that we may live our most radiant life. The possibilities when one is curious, kind – to self and others, and grounded in gratitude are endless (hence, CKG). I’m available online at mindfullymonica.com and on Instagram if anyone would like more information!
What challenges or obstacles did you face in your academic career?
Making the decision to continue my education in 2017, while working full-time was incredibly challenging. Having responsibilities to my employer and as a financially independent adult were major obstacles to a ‘smooth’ academic career. My typical day during this period began at 4 or 5 am, did not end until 11 pm or 12 am, and included lots of driving, eating, and sleeping on the go. In terms of the work more specifically, I had a challenge in finding true connection and meaning to the work. I was not simply trying to check the box; I had turned my entire world upside down to return to school, so I wanted to ensure every class and moment spent was something I was happy to be doing, while also honing my writing skills in the process. Here, I really leaned into curiosity as part of my journey and experienced so many wonderful things that I never would have thought – like traveling to England as a graduate assistant and taking out-of-the-box studies such as science fiction and art history. I became a better writer due to my studies, but also a better person.
How did your experiences at Marymount impact your life?
My experiences at MU impacted my life predominately by reminding me to keep an open mind. The courses themselves were well-crafted, catered to the individual student, and unlike what I had studied before. Deep dives on linguistics, authors like Margaret Atwood, art history and the impact of works across anthropological studies… it was all fascinating. It strengthened my skills as a student, writer, editor, all while broadening my life view. Also, I was introduced to one of my very best friends during my graduate studies at MU and for that, this period of my life and school will always hold a special place in my heart.
What do you see yourself doing in the next few years?
In the next few years, I see myself expanding my services and offerings as a coach. Service to others always has been and will continue to be a driving force for me in this life. I also wrote a draft children’s book that weaves in curiosity and kindness with the Spanish language – influenced by the topic most explored in my graduate studies at MU – identity constructs tied to culture and language. I hope to publish this piece and continue my creative writing in some capacity.
What advice would you share with current students in your program?
Be curious! Stay curious! For some reason, we stop being as curious as we once were and instead lean into the fast-paced overwhelm that can be life. Everything is and will always be okay. So, take a deep breath and sign up for that one course, be open to that topic, work with that partner. Put in the time and effort but be okay with a little discomfort every now and then, it passes. One of the best pieces of advice I received ahead of my thesis defense was along the lines of “don’t freak out- you literally know the topic better than anyone in the audience.”