Kellogg Chronicles: Being A Joint Venture (Spouse) At Northwestern

When my husband, Gonzalo Roque ’22, decided to pursue his MBA, we decided early on that Kellogg’s inclusive environment and Joint Venture (spousal and significant other) community would be the optimal opportunity for the both of us.

From the start, there were ample ways for me to get involved alongside my Joint Venture (JV) community within the Kellogg ecosystem.

Gonzalo and Valerie Roque in Chicago


Once we arrived in Evanston for the start of Fall Quarter, there were a number of ways to meet other families and JVs. Apartment buildings were having COVID-safe designed meetups between residents; there were socially distanced lakeside hangouts among Kellogg sections; and some of the different affinity and interest clubs were already creating ways to network. We even got to play a few rounds of golf with a few Kellogg students before the Quarter ramped up. All events and meet ups were open and welcoming to both students and JVs.

One of the aspects of the JV experience I was most looking forward to was joining the club designated for spouses and significant others. My first interaction with the JV Club was a virtual happy hour that they hosted during one of the first weeks of the quarter where I was able to meet other JV’s and make quick connections. Some attendees were even my neighbors!

Another really great experience I had very early as a JV involved participating in Kellogg’s KWEST (a group “trip” where students and JVs travel together to get to know classmates and intentionally avoid sharing much about their personal backgrounds to eliminate preconceived judgement). This year, KWEST was local as opposed to taking place in an international country. Nevertheless, we were still able to conceal our identities as a married couple, which helped me connect to the other people in our group on a more personal level (beyond the JV/student identity). During KWEST, I was able to make friends with both students and other JV’s which gave me confidence that I would be welcome as part of the broader community.

Gonzalo and Valerie hanging out on Spring Break with another Kellogg couple (Jason and Laura

Joining Slack Channels and signing up for clubs has been another rewarding way to build friendships and expand on my personal interests. There’s a slack channel for almost any interest. If there isn’t one for something you’re looking for, you can just create one! I’ve been able to join random club events and stay up-to-date on ways to get involved. I’ve done a golf scramble, joined board game nights, and attempted to get one of the coveted spots in a small group wine tasting (they fill up very fast). Sometimes, I sign up for small group dinners or other events without my husband and I have been able to get to know other students without him there. I became extra-involved in a few specific clubs and decided to apply for three executive positions – and I got them all! One of my positions is on the JV Executive Committee, where I helped plan the JV experience for Day At Kellogg (admit weekend). I really enjoy this role because DAK was a big contributor in our decision to come to Kellogg, so it’s the perfect way to give back.


As a Joint Venture, I’ve been able to sit in or “audit” Kellogg classes, which is something Kellogg faculty are very open. Due to my remote work schedule, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of this offering. However, I’m still able to find classes that have night or weekend times so I can take full advantage! For example, I was able to listen in on my husband’s virtual negotiation class last quarter. It was the perfect amount of commitment for me. I didn’t have to do any of the assignments, but I was still able to learn the content – and I look forward to using the tactics I learned in my next big purchase. This quarter, I’ll be fully participating in a Bitcoin class that will have readings and discussions that the professor expects me to be involved in.

Gonzalo and Valerie enjoying a sunset sail in Hawaii”

Northwestern University also offers community classes – we signed up for a virtual wine tasting class one week – it was a lot of fun! We took this class with another Kellogg couple, which proved to be a great way to spend time with friends and deepen a relationship over a shared common love for vino. We have also bonded with other couples through our love for food, and spent a week trying some amazing restaurants with another Kellogg couple during our spring break trip.

If I could offer one piece of advice as a JV, it’d be to learn how to manage and balance schedules. Kellogg activities can get pretty busy. As far as juggling a schedule with a full-time MBA student, it takes some balancing. Communication and sharing calendar events have been key for us. This way, we know the days we are busy (one or both of us) and we know when we have time to spend together. Sometimes, it might require us being more proactive about “scheduling” time to hang out just us as a couple. Of course, we also get a lot of organic time together too.


For the rest of the MBA experience, I look forward to being involved and meeting more members of the Kellogg community, whether that be other JVs, or students! I’m excited to spend the summer in Chicago with friends and am eager to attend any events Kellogg administration and students may put on in the coming school year.

My Kellogg JV experience has been great, partially due to my amazing husband but also because I was able to be as involved as I wanted to. For other JV’s, I encourage you to be deliberate to make the experience what you want. You have a lot of resources available to you as well, so take advantage.

In the end it’s your journey too, not just your partner’s!


I’m Valerie Roque (JV) originally from Houston, TX. I went to Texas A&M University (Whoop!) where I met my husband, Gonzalo Roque’ 22. I work as a financial advisor during the week. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out and meeting new friends at Kellogg and trying all the great food Chicago has to offer!

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