By: George Vicente, MDiv ’24
Editor’s Note: George Vicente is a first year MDiv student and a new father! In this post, he reflects on what it has been like to be both a new graduate student at HDS and a new parent this year.
I started my first semester at HDS in September 2021. I became a dad in that same month when my daughter, Claudette Anany Vicente, was born on September 13, 2021. The birth of my daughter was a momentous day that I had been anxiously waiting for. It was filled with both excitement and trepidation: excitement because I was going to be the dad of a baby girl and trepidation because I was starting my master’s program at the same time.
“How will I do this? Will my work suffer? Will my parenting suffer? Will I be able to succeed at being a student and at being a dad at the same time?”
These thoughts worried me up until the time that my baby was born. I’ve found, though, that through support, wise decisions, and, ultimately my faith, I have been able to be both the student and the dad that I had always wanted to be.
My support system has been crucial throughout this year. It is what has allowed me to be the best student and parent that I could be. My fiancée has been of tremendous help, shouldering more than her fair share of the responsibilities in order to allow me to have plenty of time to study and write papers (even now she is watching our baby while I am writing this post!). My fiancée’s family and friends have also championed my cause – probably because my baby is so cute – and babysat my daughter when my fiancée is at work and I am in need of some good, quiet, quality time to tackle my schoolwork. My own family has been supportive financially, emotionally, and physically, always willing to take my little bundle of joy off of my hands. And, of course, Harvard staff and students have enthusiastically offered help in the form of resources or babysitting if ever need be.
Throughout this year, I’ve also made some key decisions that have prevented me from getting overwhelmed and have allowed me to be able to do both quality schoolwork and parenting. Before my child was born, I took the HDS Summer Language Program which gave me eight credits towards my degree program even before the start of my first semester at HDS. This allowed me to take three courses during both the Fall and Spring terms this year, giving me the opportunity to acclimate myself to my new reality as a grad student and new parent while having a more manageable workload. I was also able to get a federal work-study job at the HDS library where I have the flexibility to work on my schoolwork once the work that I need to accomplish during my library shift is done. Since my fiancée is no longer on maternity leave this semester, I selected spring semester classes that do not conflict with her schedule so that I can be at home while she is at work and at school while she is at home. I make sure to set aside time for her and my baby throughout the week, and by God’s grace, time has always been available.
Most importantly, however, has been my faith in Jesus and knowing that he will get me through any challenges that I might face. I have placed my trust in him as the person who got me into HDS, knowing that he will see me through my journey here. When in times of doubt or fear about the future, I remind myself of his promise to me. I have been sustained mentally, emotionally, and spiritually through my trust in him and have been guided by his hand through these roads unknown. Nothing is for certain, and the future is unknown, but he has kept me and shown me that all things are possible through him.
This has been my journey as a brand-new dad and brand-new graduate student at HDS. I have been able to navigate and continue to navigate this road through my support system, wise decisions, and my faith. I know that everyone’s situation is different, but I hope that something from my experience touches those of you who are parents, or not parents, embarking on this new journey, and helps you travel this road successfully.