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Motherhood – A Balancing Act

Juggling work and study is daunting enough for many. For a parent, it might even be impossible. This Mother’s Day, we share this inspiring story of a mother pursuing Master of Business Psychology and explore how a combination of her determination, commitment and the support from Newcastle Australia, provides living proof and assurance that one can balance parenting (or work) with the rigours of higher education.


Photo: Maria Athena Bughao


Meet Ms Maria Athena Bughao, a remarkable mother of two whose journey to pursuing higher education is nothing short of inspiring.

Athena’s passion for lifelong learning has been a driving force in her life for as long as she can remember. She is a firm believer that having a formal education definitely enhances one’s skill sets and that it’s important to always be learning. “I decided to finally pursue my Master’s because the learning is more rigorous in school as compared to learning on the job.”.

Despite her interest in studying for a Master’s degree dating back to her early twenties, Athena had to put her dreams on hold when she welcomed her first child. However, with sheer determination and grit, years later, she’s making her dream a reality. Having relocated to Singapore and with her children much older, Athena is finally able to pursue her graduate degree with Newcastle Australia.

“Pursuing the Master of Business Psychology was a no-brainer for me as I did an Industrial Psychology degree in the Philippines. I’ve always been fascinated with the human thought process and had a desire to learn about the inner workings of the human mind.”, Athena explained.

Early in her working career, Athena has had numerous roles in various industries, from Early Childhood Education to Human Resource.  She found her true calling, Digital Marketing, from her profound passion for research, spending a few years at Essence Global, a global data and measurement-driven full service agency, which enabled her to relocate her family to Singapore. Now, she holds the role of Media Lead for GBPM (Global Business and Product Marketing) in APAC, Meta.


A Mother’s Dilemma

Photo: Maria Athena Bughao


Athena is passionate about understanding how people work, communicate, and what motivates them, and this program has allowed her to delve deeper into these topics.

However, finding a balance between work, family commitments, and pursuing higher education can be a monumental challenge, one that Athena knows all too well. While finances are certainly a consideration, it’s the juggling act of finding enough time in the day that can be truly daunting. Work takes up a significant portion of her time, but Athena is also committed to being there for her family. Balancing these competing priorities requires a great deal of prioritisation, and Athena must constantly evaluate what is most urgent at any given moment. Despite these challenges, Athena remains committed to her pursuit of higher education and understands that the benefits of investing in herself will pay off in the long run.

Athena iterates the importance of having a strong support system, especially when trying to juggle the demands of work, family, and pursuing higher education. In the early days of her career, Athena used to do it alone, but she quickly learned that she was only as strong as her support system. She credits her ability to handle the pressures of balancing multiple responsibilities to the unwavering support of her husband and family. Additionally, the flexibility of Newcastle Australia’s program has been a huge advantage. When Athena had to work late on the same day as her exam, she had to inform her professor, Dr Melissa Freire. To Athena’s surprise, Melissa went out of her way to reschedule the exam for a more convenient time, underscoring the program’s commitment to its students.


Beacon of Inspiration

Photo: Maria Athena Bughao


Athena is a firm believer in the idea that you cannot pour from an empty cup. She recognises the importance of replenishing herself so that she can handle the demands of her work and personal life without allowing them to bleed into each other. In her view, it is essential not to vent her frustrations on others, particularly her children, and she makes a conscious effort to avoid doing so. By taking the time to take care of herself, Athena can give her best to others, aligning with the saying, “You cannot give what you don’t have.” This mindset is just one of the many reasons why Athena is such an inspiration to those around her.

When asked what advice she would give to someone in a similar situation, Athena commends them for even contemplating pursuing a degree program while balancing work and parenting. She acknowledges the significant amount of motivation and resources required for such a pursuit and the sacrifices that come with it. Athena encourages individuals to keep in mind that there are greater gains to be had in the end but cautions against letting the journey drive them crazy. She emphasises that there is no rushing the “happy ending” and that it is essential to consider the journey and find ways to make it fulfilling.


Why Newcastle Australia?

Upon embarking on her professional career, Athena has had the chance to encounter some great individuals, from whom she had learned a lot from. It is through these individuals that led her to Newcastle Australia.

“I chose Newcastle Australia because of its prestige. I heard about it from friends in Australia as it is renowned for its great research and offerings, particularly in business. Since it has that affiliation to the campus in Australia, I’ve always had that positive impression. From what I have witnessed thus far, the staff and students are vibrant and inclusive, and there seems to be an apparent investment in ensuring the students here succeed,”

For Athena, Newcastle Australia’s Master of Business Psychology program is the ultimate choice. It’s the perfect amalgamation of her prior knowledge and her eagerness to learn more, allowing her to contribute meaningfully to her job while also fostering personal growth. The program has also empowered Athena to contribute to the training and development of her colleagues, giving her the tools to navigate changes in the economic landscape and stay ahead of the curve.

Take the first step towards achieving your academic and professional goals with Newcastle Australia’s range of degree programs. Whether you’re interested in the Master of Business Psychology, or any of our other programs, our experienced faculty will provide you with the education and resources you need to succeed. With a commitment to lifelong learning and personal growth, our university is the perfect place to pursue your dreams. Contact our Education Consultants at for any enquiries on our programs today!