If anyone knows about finding a healthy work-life balance, it’s Charles Sturt graduate Stacey Jenkins.
After 10 years of study, during which she gave birth to her four children, Stacey Jenkins’ on Tuesday was awarded her PhD, Work-Life Balance Responsiveness in Australian Small and Medium Enterprises.
After working in multinational organisations and falling pregnant, Ms Jenkins became interested in her rights as a new mother and the work-life practices organisations offer their employees, such as flexible working hours and telecommuting.
Surprisingly, Ms Jenkins found herself to be the perfect self-experiment for her own research, having four children while undertaking her PhD.
Despite the challenges of juggling motherhood while completing her doctorate, the 43-year-old said it was her family who really motivated her to push through the challenging times.
"There were so many times when it was so hard," Ms Jenkins said.
“About halfway through my research I really believed it would be easier if I just stopped, but luckily with the support of my supervisor and wonderful husband I persisted.
“I’m so happy that I did because I want to be a good role model for my children and show them that anything is possible if you work hard enough.”
Her four children, aged between 11 and seven-years-old, all attended the ceremony to cheer on their mother who worked long grueling hours to reach her goal.
Perhaps one of the most trying aspects of balancing family-life with her education for Ms Jenkins was the feeling of responsibility she felt towards her children.
"I think there's always a certain amount of guilt and self-doubt when you’re a mother, because you feel you're being too selfish with your ambitions,” she said.
“But at the end of the day what got me through was the thought that hopefully my research will make a difference for other mothers who will find themselves in the position I was.”
Not only did Ms Jenkins graduate with her PhD, but she was also awarded the Joss Group Outstanding Thesis Prize for achieving the most outstanding overall results in her research course within the Faculty of Business.
A humble Ms Jenkins puts this incredible achievement down to the unwavering support of her family and the love for her children.
“My kids have been so supportive and such motivation for me,” she said. “They make you laugh and smile and they bring you back down to earth."
There’s no rest for Ms Jenkins, who plans to publish an international journal next year and hopes to see four or five more works published over the coming years.