Nesting for a baby amid COVID-19

Julia and Mayur Gangala pose with a giant baby in honor of their daughter, expected in JuneWhen Julia and Mayur Gangala revealed they were having a baby girl (Audrey Lane) at a party with friends and family in February, they never imagined the last trimester happening in relative seclusion due to COVID-19.

During their three years at USI, the Gangalas’ careers have centered around young adults. Together, they’ve been a combination of the cool aunt and uncle/disciplining mom and dad for hundreds of students navigating life and managing the rigors of college academics; Mayur is an Area Coordinator for Housing and Residence Life, while Julia is the Administrative Associate of the Multicultural Center. The two live in a University apartment.

Mayur, who describes himself as an extrovert, finds comfort in a regular schedule, which includes daily walks with the couple’s dog, Enzo, on a campus now so quiet that deer are coming out of the woods to visit. Considered essential University personnel, he still goes into his office at the Residence Life Community Center. Despite the lack of usual bustling activity, he and the other area coordinators check in with the 80 or so residents who remain on campus as needed.

Framed maps represent the places the Gangalas have lived

Although working alone is different than being in the busy University Center, Julia is staying connected with the many students who call the MCC their second home via Zoom as well. Weeks away from earning her own MBA, she can relate to the challenges they face as they adapt to online classes and virtual life. “Some of them are struggling with the transition to online learning, but I have faith that they’ll persevere,” she says.

While under a statewide order to stay at home, the Gangalas are making other transitions—to virtual Lamaze classes, doctor’s appointments and baby showers. And they’ve untapped new skills assembling baby furniture for Audrey’s navy and pink nursery that pays homage to their multicultural family with maps of the places they have lived, from Hollister, Missouri, to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. “She is much better at following directions and using tools,” Mayur says of his wife.

The Gangalas' dog, Enzo, poses in Audrey's nursery

Following the advice of their parents, Julia and Mayur plan to enjoy quiet time with their daughter (who prefers sweet foods and has a penchant for kicking) when she arrives in June. Because when students return, she’ll have hundreds of honorary aunts and uncles ready to hold her.

“I can't wait for Audrey to grow up, so I can tell her the story of when her mom was seven months pregnant, working full-time and finishing her MBA during a global pandemic,” says Mayur. “Audrey won’t have to search for an inspirational figure or a hero—she will already have one, her mother.”



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