Husband and wife to receive master's degrees together

David and Emily Burney to graduate on May 9

Friday, May 1, 2015


Graduate Business programs here at JBU include students in all stages of life, working in many different professions, and offering varying perspectives on life and leadership. We talked to David and Emily Burney about what it’s been like to make their way through Grad School as a married couple. They will both be receiving their master’s degrees at JBU Commencement on May 9.


1. Which grad program are you in? Why did you choose that program?

David: I am just about to finish my requirements for the Master of Science in Higher Education Leadership degree. Through the opportunity to work a John Brown University in the Financial Aid office for the past seven years, I have become very passionate about higher education. What an incredible opportunity to work in a position that gives students the ability obtain a college degree who might not otherwise have that chance. 

Emily: I’m in the Higher Education Leadership master’s degree program. I chose this program because my undergraduate years were so formative for me that I wanted to become better equipped to help current college students through what can be a very challenging and transforming time for them.


2. Do you ever feel a sense of competition with your spouse?

E: Being married, you learn quickly that if you treat your spouse like your competition – or your enemy – your relationship will take a huge toll. One of you might “win” at something, but if one wins, that means the other loses, which means the team loses. At the beginning of our program, it was pretty difficult not to weigh our grades between each other and subconsciously think that one of us was better than the other. What we’ve realized through doing the program together is that we think and process very differently, thus our assignments and research will be done in very different ways. We’ve grown to see that our differences in our academics are really good to have, especially when we have to brainstorm together for anything, because we will approach the situation from different angles and thus, we’ll have a more holistic view of the situation or assignment at hand.

D: Yes, at first there was a slight hint of competition. We learned very quickly that we were going to have to work together in order to accomplish this goal and that competition was only going to slow us down. We both have different personality types (introvert vs. extrovert) and different study habits (how much time it takes to complete an assignment, etc.). This gave us the opportunity to learn more about each other in a different setting. We learned through the process that I am more focused on the grades while Emily is more focused on learning something that pertains to her field or interests.


3. Are there ways in which you’re able to help each other out?

D: Honestly, I believe that it was extremely beneficial to go through a graduate program with someone like this. The 40-minute drive from the Rogers Center gave us the opportunity to discuss the concepts we had learned in class as well as the things that were struggling through.

E: Because of the different ways that our brains work, there have been several times that one of us has been able to explain concepts that the other didn’t understand in class. I most definitely would not have made it through statistics class had Dave not been patient with me on the car ride home to explain the concepts that had swept over my head during class. In our Christian Foundations class, I’ve been able to help Dave by allowing him the space to verbally process the concepts we are covering. I took a class from Dr. Lanker in undergrad that was very similar to this class, so I haven’t needed to do as much processing as Dave has, since most of these concepts are completely new for him.


4. What’s next for you?

D: At this point in time, I plan to continue working in the Financial Aid office at JBU and Emily will be starting her new job as the Administrative Assistant for Traditional Undergrad here at JBU.

E: Dave and I have just purchased our first home, so we are happily doing all the fun things that come with that, such as painting, acquiring and refurbishing furniture, packing and unpacking our current apartment, etc. I love doing all kinds of crafty and organizational things, so it’s been a blast!


JBU Commencement for Graduate and Degree Completion students will be held on Saturday, May 9, at 2 p.m. in Bill George Arena on the JBU campus in Siloam Springs.

Blog HomePosted By: Connor Phillips - 5/1/15 7:45 AM

Google™ Translate: