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Mother and Son Complete Their Yale Journeys Together

Kate Fuentes ’22 reflects on how her and her son Ryan’s relationship deepened during the time they both spent at Yale—she in the MBA for Executives program; he as an undergraduate at Yale College. They graduated together in May. 

A mother and son at commencement
A woman in graduation garb lifting a young man in graduation garb

You never quite know what brings you to a certain place in life. And though for years you may cautiously dip your toes into the water, what compels you to dive in can be equally elusive. As I reflect on my decision to apply to Yale SOM, the tipping point was the encouragement of my son, Ryan, and the equally enthusiastic support of my daughter, Meghan—a bit of role reversal where the “kids,” now ages 22 and 25, and their unwavering belief in me helped the parent to overcome the infamous laundry list of why “I can’t, shouldn’t, won’t be able to” that we all replay in our minds before any big decision.

A unique aspect of my experience was that I was able to attend this iconic institution alongside Ryan, a rising junior at Yale College when I began my journey in the MBA for Executives program in the summer of 2020, and now a fellow Class of 2022 graduate! One of the highlights of my trips to New Haven for class weekends was getting to spend time with Ryan. Our time together was often centered around meals, as are most memorable experiences in my life, including our class weekend breakfasts at The Study. It was nice way to start the day as we would then both head our separate ways; he to his classes, and me to mine.   

We also shared in special moments, like when Ryan joined me for our EMBA graduation dinner and we sat around the table with my Yale SOM family, joking and kidding around and replaying stories of our journey together over the past two years. Or our walks around the beautiful campus, where I had the privilege of getting a glimpse into his life, and hearing about his hopes, dreams, and challenges during this pivotal transition into young adulthood. And where I shared my experiences about courses that inspired me or talked about the meaningful friendships I had made in the program. In a way, I, too, was in transition with hopes and dreams for the future.

Perhaps the most meaningful experience for me as a mom was having a brief window into the past, present, and future. During one of our dinners togethers in New Haven, I listened intently and with great joy as Ryan spoke energetically of his passion for urban studies, technology, and future city mobility solutions—a passion that had been sparked by his own journey and coursework at Yale. In that moment, as I sat across the table from him, I was simultaneously envisioning the little boy stretched out on the floor reading one of his favorite books, A Street Through Time, over and over again as he studied the past and imagined the future.  

And as I finally walked across the stage at graduation, Meghan and Ryan joined me, and Ryan, still dressed in his graduation garb from his own ceremony, read out my name as I shook Dean Charles’ hand: “Kate Fuentes, my mom.”