Life after graduation: a Newman alumni couples’ story

Feb 23, 2022

Jacob Birnbaum met Natalia Hausmann while he was a freshman at Newman University and she was a senior. Their journey as college athletes, each playing basketball, caused them to cross paths and it didn’t take long for them to find a connection.

Building a bond at Newman

The pair dated while attending Newman but then carried on a long-distance relationship while Jacob finished his degree.

They married a few months after Jacob graduated in 2020 and now live in Ponca City, Oklahoma, both working toward the careers they envisioned.

Jacob earned his Bachelor of Science in biology in May 2020 and now works as the basketball coach for ninth-grade boys at Ponca City High School. He is also standing in as a substitute teacher while finishing his teaching certificate.

Natalia graduated with her Bachelor of Science in management information technology in 2017 and then went on to earn a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis in building leadership in 2019. Currently, she is working as an information technology coordinator for Cybertron IT.

Both Jacob and Natalia brought much of their Newman education and experience into their career life and work ethic.

Jacob’s experience

Jacob Birnbaum

For Jacob, his time on the basketball team provided him with two different perspectives on the game he now coaches.

During his first year at Newman, Jacob played for head coach Mark Potter. After his retirement, assistant coach R.J. Allen was promoted to head coach and Jacob learned a whole new set of skills.

“Both were excellent coaches to have in my life,” said Jacob. “Allen was defense-focused with a strong work ethic and he really implanted a mindset and skill set that I use today. He made me a lot tougher mentally and made me realize things about myself, made me a better person.

“Potter was also a great coach and his connection with his players was on a deep level, too. I always felt like he had my back, in basketball or in life. I know I can still call Potter today and he’ll still be there for me. That’s something I want to be able to have with the guys I coach.”

As a coach himself, Jacob’s goal is to make an impact on his players’ lives and to help them learn the lessons he didn’t learn until later in life.

Jacob added that his athletic experience wasn’t the only thing that set him up for success in his career. The curriculum at Newman challenged him to think beyond the classroom, to enhance his time management skills and open his mind to new learning and new experiences.

Natalia, who holds two degrees from Newman, agreed — adding that even though her classes looked quite different from Jacob’s, she had the same classroom and faculty experiences he had.

Natalia’s experience

She said every faculty member she encountered treated her with respect and made an honest effort to get to know her or help her in any way they could.

Natalia Birnbaum (left) and Jacob Birnbaum (right) while playing for the Newman University Jets.

Natalia also played basketball at Newman and said some of her favorite memories included her team. Practices, games and traveling is where student-athletes spend much of their time and for Natalia, those moments defined her collegiate experience.

Natalia’s position with Cybertron IT moved to a remote job in 2020 during the COVID-19 onset and she’s worked remotely ever since. She said she enjoys working from home as it’s easier to focus and provides an environment with fewer distractions.

Her role requires her to manage other employees’ schedules and Natalia works closely with both her co-workers and the companies her employer contracts with.

She said her time at Newman helped her hone her time management skills.

Natalia (Hausmann) Birnbaum

“I didn’t just learn from books at Newman,” said Natalia. “I learned how to manage my schedule. The challenges I faced revolved around getting classwork done while traveling as a student-athlete. That’s not always an easy task.”

Both Natalia and Jacob said they are thankful for their Newman experience. But they are both most thankful for the athletics program, without which, they would not have had the opportunity to attend Newman University.