Getting A Master’s Degree With A Growing Family: How Did Stephanie Do It?

stephanie severance, a MEM alum, was able to raise a family while earning her degree. Only two weeks into the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s engine systems master’s degree program, Stephanie Severance found out she was expecting a little boy.

Severance knew she wanted to have her master’s degree since she was an undergrad studying mechanical engineering. After a few years of work experience with an engine design and manufacturing company, Cummins, Severance was ready to enroll in the master’s degree program.

With a baby on the way and a full time job, Severance had a lot on her plate during her first year in the program. To her, the hardest part was keeping up with the schedule she made to stay on track with her coursework.

After her first year in the program, Severance gave birth to her baby boy and was on the final stretch toward completing the program.

By the time Severance was beginning her final semester in the Master of Engineering: Engine Systems program, she found out she had more than just a degree arriving in the future.

“I think I hold the title for most pregnancies,” Severance said. “I found out I was expecting summer of 2015 before my final semester. So, I have had two pregnancies and I actually gave birth once during the program.”

With such a busy family life at home, Severance knew she needed a reliable support system to keep her on track with the challenging courses. The assistance she received in the MEES program was a major factor that made balancing her priorities a possibility.

“The material was not dumbed down in any way, shape, or form, but I felt like I always had the resources between the faculty, the peer group in the program and my peers at Cummins,” Severance said. “I always had the resources to learn and explore and get the answers I needed.”

Severance accomplished a lot during her master’s program, and found out she could take her talents even farther. Before she completed the MEES courses, she applied to another position with Cummins and found out her efforts had paid off.

“I was halfway through the program when I applied to lead an engine program,” Severance said. “I don’t think that I would’ve had the confidence or the resume to do that if I hadn’t been part of the MEES program.”

Severance is now leading a team that is involved in engine research for products that will be introduced to the market in the 2020s. She is also the mother of one with a new addition arriving any day.



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