A Master’s and Motherhood

Ravneet Kaur never thought she would leave her home in Punjab, India to move to Canada — especially not months before she was about to complete her master’s degree. But having recently married, and with her husband already working in Ottawa, Kaur decided to leave her degree behind to start a new life in Canada in 2012.

Although the choice – and the adjustment to the cold – was difficult, Kaur’s decision is finally paying off. Two years after restarting her degree at Carleton in 2013, Kaur is graduating with her MASc in Computer and Electrical Engineering. What’s more, she did it all while expecting her first child.

“I was constantly thinking about my master’s to be honest, throughout my pregnancy,” Kaur says. “This was the second time that I had started my master’s and that was one thing in my mind — that this time I have to do it no matter what,” she says.

In between ultrasounds and doctor’s appointments, Kaur was hard at work researching cloud computing – think iCloud or Google Drive – that stores and manages data online. The result of her degree is an algorithm she designed to speed up cloud applications and minimize power consumption.

“I always wanted to get into networking and this is one of the hot topics in our field,” says Kaur, who taught herself programming languages like BASIC and Java Script as a teenager in India. She first realized her interest in computer science in the tenth grade when she started borrowing textbooks from her cousin, who was studying computer science engineering at the time, and reading them for fun.

It’s those moments that Kaur says led her to her degree, which she continued to work on until five days before her daughter Hasrut was born on April 1, 2015.

After a few weeks taking care of her newborn, Kaur headed back to the books. While she’d nearly completed her algorithm, she had yet to give it a name and begin writing her thesis.

“I was going through a very hard time with the new baby,” she says. “I had a C-section and it was hard. She was just three or four months when I was writing my thesis.”

Seeing how overworked she was, Kaur’s professors decided to name the algorithm for her. HASRUT, her daughter’s namesake, stands for the Heuristic Algorithm for Service-centre Resource Utilization – a kind of second baby for Kaur.

“I was overwhelmed!” Kaur says, adding that she’s grateful for the support she received from her professors, husband and family, who all helped accommodate her while she juggled the demands of pregnancy with her degree.

“I never thought that I could go through all this,” Kaur says. “But I did.”

“Now when somebody asks me, I can proudly say I was expecting my daughter, I had a C-section and I still graduated!”

This entry was written by Kirsten Fenn and posted in the issue. Bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media: http://carletonnow.carleton.ca/?p=13326

Kirsten Fenn

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