Following in my Students’ Footsteps: My Journey Back to Graduate School
Author: Doug Larratt (MBA ’17, Parent ’17 & ’19)
Many Bruin parents walk alongside their student during their time at UCLA. But every once in a while parent and child are UCLA students together – at the same time! In this piece Bruin alumnus and parent, Doug Larratt, reflects on his recent experience as a UCLA graduate student and what it meant to him to go back to school with his two daughters.
You may have noticed something strange in the byline above, however there is no error. I am a very proud parent of two Bruin daughters; I am also a recent Bruin graduate. On a sunny Friday in June 2017, I received my MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. The very next day under equally sunny skies, my daughter Stephanie received her B.A. from the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture. It was a special family graduation weekend.
I have hopefully sparked your curiosity and I will continue the story. However, I first must pause to congratulate you, current and new UCLA parents. It is a truly exceptional achievement, for both your student and your family, to have earned undergraduate admission to this very special and elite institution. Your student’s journey of opportunity and experience will be inspiring and life-changing – and it will be great fun for all of you. Congratulations!
About 10 years ago, our family settled in Southern California as my two daughters were attending middle school and I was starting a job in the Aerospace industry. I was transitioning from a twenty-one-year career as a naval officer and a lot of family moves.
As we settled in California, my wife Bernadette and I knew of UCLA, but we did not know UCLA. We only came to really know the University during our eldest daughter Stephanie’s college search experience and her first school year. We attended a local Bruin send-off event, we met enthusiastic UCLA parents, and we became engaged with the University ourselves. We applied for, and joined, the UCLA Parents’ Council as volunteers and parent ambassadors for the institution. We supported the UCLA Office of Parent and Family Programs. We made many new UCLA friends.
Personally, I had always aspired to an MBA, but I wanted the education to be high quality, and I wanted it to be at the right time. While my daughters were in K-12, my primary focus was being a father. As my daughters moved on to college, I searched for an elite Executive MBA program that would allow me to work full-time and have classmates who were my peers and would challenge me. UCLA Anderson School of Management was the graduate school that checked all of those boxes.
The application process was not difficult, but it was competitive. The program looks for students who are professionally accomplished, have substantive management experience, and high potential for continued leadership and growth. While applying I attended two Anderson classes as a prospective student. I was impressed with the caliber of the people I met.
The best value of the course was the richness and diversity of the interactions with my fellow classmates and faculty, and the lasting friendships and networks created through the experience. It was hard work balancing a job, the coursework, and life commitments, but it was tremendously worthwhile. I miss it greatly today, but it has created new opportunities and opened new doors for me to apply myself and continue my growth.
It was a unique shared experience with my wife and daughters as well. There was a funny, awkward moment for me when I found them all rolling in laughter listening to me complain about a particularly difficult professor and his exam. You may not believe it, but your kids are listening to all those trusty parental axioms you’ve shared over the years, because I heard them all repeated back to me (e.g. “Don’t take the pack off,” “Did you try your hardest?” and my favorite, “Plan your work, work your plan.”). Yes, I heard them all!
So, here are some thoughts to consider as a UCLA parent from an outgoing parent who has greatly enjoyed the journey:
- If interested, take a look at a UCLA Anderson EMBA, another UCLA Graduate or Certificate Program, or UCLA Extension Courses (I’m not unique – I know of four other UCLA Parents’ Council members attending graduate/certificate programs).
- Become a UCLA Parent Volunteer and even apply to the UCLA Parents’ Council as a leader and parent ambassador for the University.
- Simply engage in the UCLA experience. Attend sporting events, student performances, or student-run charity events; visit the campus museums and libraries; participate in UCLA Parent Coffee Socials in your local area and develop your personal parent network. Help sustain, nurture, and grow the ethos of UCLA and it will become part of you.
College is a time for your student to learn independence. This does not mean your student won’t benefit from your support and engagement in the University. The relationship Bernadette and I formed with UCLA created a special bond we will always have with our daughters. We all know the meaning of True Bruin. I wish you good luck on your journey and, again, congratulations. Go Bruins!