A Single Special Needs Mom Brought Her Daughter to Host a Tech Event

Courtney Hughes is a single mother in Austin, Texas. Her daughter was born with special needs. Courtney’s also a communications consultant for the client product group at Dell. When Courtney was asked to host Dell’s Changing the Face of Tech event at Texas State, she was thrilled to share her expertise with students of color. She also assumed she’d be hosting without her little one in tow.

In a post on LinkedIn, Courtney wrote that at the last minute, her babysitter cancelled due to an emergency the day of the Face of Tech event. So, like all career moms, Courtney had to find a way to make things work. She did so by bringing 4-year-old McKenzie to the podium.

“Being a woman of color and speaking with minority students about technology, my experience and how they are the future is extremely important to me,” Courtney said. She wasn’t going to let the fallout with her babysitter affect an opportunity to motivate fellow women in tech.

“I had two young women come up to me and tell me that seeing my daughter with me gave them hope that they can do it too,” Courtney said. “My response: You CAN and you WILL. It won’t be easy but focus on your goals and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I may not know you but I’m rooting for you. McKenzie chimed in and encouraged them by saying they did good…she makes me so proud.”

On her blog, Courtney wrote that McKenzie was born at only 25 weeks and spent her first 18 weeks of life in the NICU. For over three years, she had to use a feeding tube.

In May 2019, Courtney announced her daughter officially no longer needed her feeding tube. “This journey has been a lot of hard work, frustration, crying nights and crying with excitement,” Courtney said. She also gave a shout out to her friends, family and Dell coworkers. “My Dell team…thank you! For being so supportive, understanding and giving me the flexibility to take care of my child and do my job.”

McKenzie ended her LinkedIn post with a reminder that it’s up to working mothers to build one another up. “The goal is never for just you to make it…it’s for US to make it. Each one teach one. I’m proud to be a mother. I’m proud of Dell and the work we are doing. I’m blessed to work for a company where I can be myself…kid in tow and all.”

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