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Moms and dads join forces in new Sloan club

Ajamu Kitwana, left, and Esther Faust.
Ajamu Kitwana, left, and Esther Faust.

When Esther Faust MBA '12 raised her hand at AdMIT weekend and asked what resources exist for parents at the MIT Sloan School of Management, she didn’t receive much of an answer.

But Faust imagined an outlet that would capitalize on the unique needs of parents in the Sloan community. “I wasn’t looking for a shopping spree to the outlets,” Faust says. Instead, she wanted advice on day-care centers or just a sympathetic peer parent who would really understand how grueling the core is when you have little ones at home. Faust and her husband, Yuval, have one daughter, Lavie, who is now almost 3.

There already was a moms’ club at MIT Sloan, and Faust approached the members to ask if she could dovetail on their efforts and expand it to fathers, too. “I was getting so much support from my classmates who are dads,” she says. “There are many more dads than moms here.” Faust connected with fellow parents Ajamu Kitwana, Bilikiss Adebiyi and Bobby Byrd, all MBA '12, and Marjorie Merchant, the wife of John Merchant MBA ’11, and they expanded the club to include fathers. The newly restructured Sloan Moms and Dads Club now has 98 members and is open to anyone at MIT Sloan, regardless of whether they have children.

This semester, the club has organized several child-friendly events including a picnic, a pumpkin-carving party and an apple-picking jaunt, as well as casual social gatherings where parents drink coffee and eat donuts. It’s also a forum for information exchange and advice. “There’s nothing like networking when you are both pushing your children on the swings together,” Faust says, laughing.

Kitwana, who has two daughters at home — Soleil, 3, and Imani, 8 months — says juggling schoolwork with the demands of childcare is challenging. Kitwana’s wife, Ahlia, works full time as an engineer at Raytheon.

“For me, there’s a need for this club because as parents we are dealing with such a huge challenge, and sometimes you can feel alone in that. It’s good to feel like you aren’t the only one,” he says.

Faust agrees, adding that whenever she is feeling like she can’t cope with the demands of both childrearing and school, she reminds herself of something an MIT Sloan classmate — a father — once said to her: “Look at it this way: You are such a good role model for your kid.”

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