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If you could do it all over again......

JFRUGOLI at bio.tamu.edu JFRUGOLI at bio.tamu.edu
Thu Jun 18 11:57:01 EST 1998

Chris Odt posted re childbearing while starting a career with the Federal Government as a BS 
microbiologist (my apologies if got that wrong).  As many of you know, I did everything the 
unconventional way (not on purpose!). I had my 3 children straight out of high school, then 
went to college, then worked as a BS chemist for the Federal Government, then went to 
graduate school, and am now doing a post doc (and children are now 2 in college and one 
still in high school).  By the time I have a faculty position,I'll probably be a 

Two things Chris said struck a chord with me.  One is a Federal job-if you can get it (I 
heard there was a hiring freeze at most Federal labs, but my info is about 3 years old, so I 
may be wrong).  I don't know about all Federal labs, but the one I was in and the one a 
friend was in had regular 8 hour days, with weekends and holidays off and benefits, all 
things I would not see again for many years when I started down the PhD track.  I also had a 
good degree of autonomy and access to equipment and supplies that would be a long time in 
coming again, though they eventually did.  I held the government job for almost 5 years 
while my kids were in elementary school, and it allowed me to be a "mom" in a way I couldn't 
be when I went to grad school,as well as paid a living wage. I don't consider those years 
"lost" from my career-back then I wasn't sure I wanted the PhD.  I published some papers and  
picked up some very good skills, including giving talks and navigating bureaucracy, while 
being able to enjoy time with my children that was precious and irreplaceable.

Which leads to the second point which both Chris and another poster brought up-the inability 
to plan. As wonderful as the above reasoning for my BS scientist job sounds, I didn't plan 
it, I fell into it.  My children have taught me many things, among them (1) plan everything 
you can because with 3 kids, anything that can go wrong, will (in triplicate). (2) whatever 
you plan, expect to have to change it due to unforseen circumstances.  and (3) try not to 
get upset at the changes-sometimes they turn out to be the best plans from the perspective 
of a few years.

So, in reponse to the original posting, you are wise to consider options and the pros and 
cons of having children at various points in your career, but there is no "right way" and 
whatever you plan is subject to change from many directions, within and without.

Best of luck!
Dr. Julia Frugoli
Texas A&M University
Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology
Crop Biotechnology Center
MS# 2123
College Station, TX 77843

"Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom,
which is control.  Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals
mainly with values.  The two are not rivals."
											Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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