It was the first week of classes in their two-year programs at BCIT when they found out they were having a baby. BCIT alumni Alisa and Todd Bailey were newlyweds in their early 20s with big plans for their school and career success when they were caught off guard by the news of their pregnancy. The couple decided that having a child while pursuing their education full time was the right choice for them. They just didn’t know how much chaos they were in for.
They kept their news private from their instructors as long as they could. “I remember the day that I fell asleep in class because I was so tired,” Alisa says while laughing. “I had to finally tell the teacher that I was pregnant.”
Being the only pregnant woman in the BCIT Architectural and Building Technology program, Alisa says she stood out: “I got a lot of weird looks. A lot of people tried to carry my backpack for me.”
Support through chaos
As students, Todd and Alisa were living in a small studio apartment, commuting from Surrey to the BCIT Burnaby campus. In order to spend time together and to take care of their newborn Dawson, the couple set up workstations at home. Todd remembers it being jam-packed with two computers, a drafting table for Alisa, and a lot of baby items.
Alisa recalls, “We have lots of pictures with our son Dawson sleeping in between the two computers while we were working.”
Support from BCIT faculty, their family, and support for each other helped them work through the stress and chaotic schedules. They made it work but they felt the pressure to get everything done.
“It was a heavy workload,” says Todd, adding, “We’d come home and do homework and have to cook dinner and take care of the baby and do homework on top of that.”
Nearby family helped with childcare when Alisa and Todd had school deadlines. Alisa says they also made time to support each other every day: “We would chat about our day and talk about what was going on.”
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Evolving together as a couple
The intense schedule that they took on as young parents has been influential in shaping their relationship and helped the couple to evolve together.
“When you get married pretty young, you are an evolving human being” says Alisa. “So being accepting that the other person is evolving and isn’t going to be staying stagnant and working together and trying to come to solutions together…is really important,” says Alisa, adding, “Communication is the biggest thing.”
Todd quickly chimes in to say “That’s not to say that communication didn’t sometimes start with a screaming match!”
More than 20 years later, they continue to work in the fields they studied for at BCIT: Alisa is the Director of the Industrial Sector at Omicron, while Todd is a Senior Software Engineer with Strata Identity. They still drive home together and talk about their day.
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