Delayed by pandemic, married couple returns to Pullman for doctoral hooding

Syed and Modhurima
Married couple Syed Badruddoza, left, and Modhurima Amin will return to Pullman to receive their doctoral hoods May 7, 2022. After deferring their PhD celebration due to the pandemic, the pair are continuing their academic journey together as economic scientists.

Launching careers together amid the uncertainties of a global pandemic, Modhurima Amin and Syed Badruddoza never had the chance to celebrate their Washington State University graduation in 2020.

Two years later, the married couple will be back in Pullman for a long-deferred ceremony: receiving doctoral hoods from the hands of their economic sciences mentor, Regents Professor Jill McCluskey.

“This hooding is very important for us,” said Amin, who, like her husband, came to the United States from Bangladesh to pursue an advanced degree in economics. “In our families, we’re the first to get PhDs, and to be recognized for that is a great thing. We want to share these memories.”

“We want to see the rolling hills,” Badruddoza added. “It’s the perfect opportunity to spend time with our professors and with the new class of students. Everyone was so friendly and supportive; it’s like going back to a family.”

Amin and Badruddoza will fly from Lubbock, Texas, where both are assistant professors at Texas Tech University. Working in the same department, they research and teach the economics of agriculture, food, energy, and decisions made by people and businesses. Both continue to collaborate on research with McCluskey, their advisor and director of WSU’s School of Economic Sciences.

“We consider Pullman our second home,” Amin said. “We spent five years, more than half of our U.S. lives, here, and made friends for life. We have so many fond memories. I never thought the PhD journey would have been so much fun.”

While both studied economics at the University of Dhaka in their home country, Amin and Badruddoza didn’t meet until they were master’s students in the same financial economics program at Illinois State University.

“It was a big coincidence,” Amin said. “We both thought, ‘Wow!’” They became friends but applied separately for doctoral studies—and both were accepted to McCluskey’s WSU program.

“I can still remember that spring day when we told each other,” Amin said. “Oh wow, we will be in the same school again!”

Launching careers together

The pair started dating toward the end of their doctoral studies—perhaps not an ideal time, given the coming turning point in their lives, and in the wider world.

Amin remembers boarding a plane at SeaTac International Airport for a Texas visit on Jan. 20, 2020—the same day the first U.S. Covid case was reported.

A shaky job market, travel restrictions, closed stores, and empty shelves punctuated months of uncertainty, but both stayed positive, consistently applied for jobs, defended their dissertations, and began careers in tandem.

“We’re still friends, we still do homework together,” Badruddoza said. “But now the homework is different, and there are more responsibilities. We keep moving from one school to another together—the difference now is that we’re on the other side of the classroom.”

“Now I know what Jill went through,” added Amin, who has gained new appreciation for her WSU advisor.

“Jill guided us so well, and is still mentoring us,” Badruddoza said. “Without her, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we are.”

That experience gives them an additional reason to fly back for the Pullman celebration.

“In a few years, I’ll be hooding my first PhD student,” Amin said. “I want to experience my own hooding, so I can do a great job of honoring my students when the time comes.”