Doing it all By Serena Dugar Ioane

Despite great difficulties, graduating senior Otgonchimeg Chimedregzen did not allow challenges to define her

Photo by Chad Hsieh

Otgonchimeg Chimedregzen, a senior from Mongolia majoring in social work, managed to successfully graduate while struggling with the loss of her father, being a mother and being a full-time student as a manager of the Give and Take. Despite her challenges that she said felt overwhelming at times, she believes they were worth it.

Photo provided by Chimedregzen

Blessings of BYUH

Her husband, Nasanbold Sukhbaatar, a recent BYUH alumnus, said, “Pursuing higher education was one of her dreams, but this educational journey was not that easy. There were so many challenges and problems that we faced and overcame. As a mother of four, a full-time student and a part-time worker, she has tried to balance her duties and never left behind any of them.”

Chimedregzen said studying at BYU–Hawaii with her husband and four children was the most memorable time of her life because of the unique challenges she faced. She and her husband said they were showered with new knowledge and experiences from their four years of studies and work.

She shared how, initially, she and her husband started at the same English as an International Language (EIL) level, which required them to take many of the same classes.

“Most of our classes were overlapping, so it was very difficult for us to find babysitters. Sometimes, one of us had to skip classes or have to take our children to the classes.”

She also said she barely had time to spend with her husband due to their busy schedules. “In the mornings, we usually have classes, and then both take turns to work. After work, we have to do our homework. Sunday is the only day we spend as a family.”

Chimedregzen shared how several times, she was in despair due to failing some classes and having an overload of obligations. “My English was so bad. I cried many times and wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I usually did not have much time to practice my English, so I decided to talk only in English with my children. It really helped me to improve my English.”

Her family was also blessed with two new members during their studies. Chimedregzen said going through the pregnancy and birth process twice while juggling school and work was challenging yet rewarding.

“Now, we are used to living overloaded all the time. The time management skills I learned from my mission helped me. When I look back, these years were the most effective years of my life.”

They have three sons and one daughter. “Family is always a priority to her, and she always tries to find time from her busy schedule to spend with our kids and me. She is my motivation and a super mom to our kids,” Sukhbaatar said.

She said her professors saw she was trying and valued her hard work, which encouraged her to keep moving forward.

One of the biggest obstacles in her life, according to Chimedregzen, was when she lost her father at age 15. From this experience, she learned she had to love her mother and those around her as much as she can.

“No one knows when death and other afflictions come to our loved ones. People’s lives are very short,” Chimedregzen shared.

Chimedregzen’s bishop, Merlin Paul Waite, of the Laie Married Students’ 4th Ward, said, “She is an amazing lady. It is not easy raising four children while going to school and working. On top of all, she is doing everything in a foreign country, learning a foreign language. I am proud of her.”

She said although her family is very busy, they try to serve the community and the Mongolian club as much as they possibly can. Her husband served as a Mongolian club president for a year, and they performed charity projects, such as fixing bikes and raising funds to help children in Mongolia.

Devoted manager

Besides her study and family obligations, she was a manager for BYUH Sustainability Center’s Give and Take for two years. She shared how much she loved her job and how it helped her to communicate appropriately with international people and practice leadership skills.

She also learned not to be afraid of making mistakes, and everyone is equal from her working experience, she added.

Leslie Harper, the Sustainability Center’s manager, said, “Chimgee is a very busy wife and mother. With all she has done, she was hesitant to accept the position as manager of the Give and Take. It was obvious to all that her focus was on serving others and making a difference in people’s lives. She was an excellent manager and will be a great asset in the future.”

Dreaming big for the future

Chimedregzen majored in social work and wants to become an expert who works with children whose rights are oppressed, which she wishes to do in Mongolia.

“There are many children who are suffering and do not know how to protect themselves and where to go to ask for help. Children are the future, so I want to help them.”

In the future, she wants to establish a school where she can prepare bright, future leaders for her country. In the long run, she wants to extend her school to different countries.