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Walden Magazine // Jan 01, 2010

The Family Who Studies Together, Graduates Together

Two students, one household: How one couple completed their Walden journey.

Sytsma FamilyAs husband and wife, Jim and Cindy Sytsma supported each other every step of the way as they each pursued advanced degrees at Walden University. Here, Jim ’06, MPA, and Cindy ’09, PhD in Human Services, share how they juggled the demands of higher degrees and emerged stronger as career professionals, and as a family.

Before Enrolling: Cindy, who enrolled first, inspired Jim to address his own future as an employee of the federal government. “I realized my future became clearer with the education than without,” he says.

During Their Studies: Walden was part of nightly conversation. Cindy would read Jim’s papers as he anxiously looked over her shoulder. Meanwhile, Jim would run errands or prepare dinner so that Cindy could finish her KAMs by the time she gave birth in early 2007.

Post Graduation Reflection: Although vacations and date nights suffered, the sacrifice was worth it. “Stress yes, but I would not have traded it for anything in the world,” says Jim. “As a couple, and a team, you really learn each other’s strengths in that type of environment.”

What They’re Doing Now: Jim and Cindy say they’re busier now than ever before. Their Walden degrees have given them new credentials in their respective workplaces to positively effect social change—Cindy trains professionals in the juvenile justice system to work with behaviorally challenged youth, while Jim is working to implement an efficient and ethical pay policy for federal employees. “Ultimately, we want to achieve the highest goals before our children are old enough to remember what we endured,” says Cindy. And, as newly appointed Walden Ambassadors, the Sytsmas remain close to Walden and encourage others to strive for the same education success they’ve attained.

Walden ambassadors encourage professionals to take their careers to the next level with a Walden degree. For more information, send an email to [email protected].