Kaitey Vasquez and Craig Elliott, MS Project Management ’21, never planned on earning a degree in Project Management, much less matriculating together as a couple.
When IT Manager Kaitey Vasquez first applied to Golden Gate University, she intended to enroll in the MS in IT Management program. However, the program director suggested that the MS in Project Management would be a better fit for Kaitey, and she decided to change direction.
“What a wild thing,” said Kaitey. “By the end of the first semester, I convinced my husband Craig to apply for the same degree program in project management. I told him, this is the coolest degree ever. It fits all of our life dreams and passions and people-connecting and leadership.”
At the time, Craig was working as an HR consultant with city and county governments.
“It didn’t take too much convincing for me to apply to and enroll in the project management program,” he said. “I decided, let’s go full on with project management and see what happens.”
During the pandemic, Craig lost his job and the couple moved in with Kaitey’s parents while they strategized about their next steps. Over the course of the pandemic, they also became pregnant with their first child.
“During the first two weeks of lockdown, our whole world changed,” reflected Kaitey. “If it wasn’t for GGU, I wouldn’t have finished the program. GGU has been designed so well for working people and the professors were so great and in terms of the pivot to virtual, GGU was ahead of the game.”
After earning his MS degree, Craig accepted a new job with software company E2open. Meanwhile, Kaitey was promoted at the university where she was employed to help launch a project management office. Currently, she’s a contract project manager, working with small to medium sized businesses.
After they both graduated, Kaitey and Craig applied for a GGU fellowship through the Phanstiel Professional Practice Fellows Program, which provides enhanced support to students who are preparing for professional certification examinations in their field. The fellowship can cover the cost of exam fees, preparation materials, exam instruction, and child-care support. Phanstiel Fellows benefit from the flexible and focused preparation time that helps ensure they successfully complete this important last mile in their educational journey.
“It was this really amazing opportunity to apply for the PMP ® (Project Management Professional) Certification, which is the next step in our education,” explained Craig.
The fellowship has allowed them to enroll in an online preparation course, dedicate time to preparing for the exam, and care for their infant.
“We’re so thankful, especially because of the timing when we had our baby. I don’t think I would have ever thought of finishing that certification had it not been for the fellowship. It’s time, money, and the resources to study,” said Kaitey.
Kaitey and Craig hope to one day launch their own firm that provides support to small businesses.
“I have such a deep appreciation for small and medium-sized businesses,” said Kaitey. “I’m so excited to help businesses grow and scale and thrive whether it’s one mom or dad trying to run a business, but they have all these different IT systems and processes they can’t figure out. We can help businesses grow and gain funding. It would be really cool for us to do that together at a larger scale one day. That’s our big dream. As far as how we’re going to get there, we’ll see.”