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Human Development and Family Science

How I Discovered and Found my Niche in the Field of Family Science


Dr. Erin Boyd-Soisson
I started my undergraduate work studying aerospace engineering for 3 semesters, until I had taken some psychology and sociology courses. I became interested in studying children after hearing, what seemed to be, news story after news story of children committing horrible crimes. I changed my major to psychology in order to learn more about human behavior. After graduation, I worked as a counselor in a group home for delinquent and dependent female adolescents. At the facility, an emphasis was placed on not only helping the individual child, but the family of the child as well. It became apparent to me while working there, that children do not develop in isolation, rather all aspects of their environment, particularly their family, are important for their healthy development. Wanting to learn more about the family's role in children's development, I decided to return to school and learn more about human development and family science. I love learning about children and their families and engaging in discussions with students, in classes and out of classes, about their career interests in working with children and their families.

Dr. Raeann Hamon

As an undergrad Behavioral Science major, I took a smattering of sociology and psychology classes, but when I enrolled in my first family science course, I knew that I had found my disciplinary niche. I absolutely love the content of the family science field, as well as the unique perspectives and skills that it offers to professionals whose aim is to enhance the well-being of individuals and their families. I actually relish the opportunity to read about topics like marriages, family relationships, interpersonal dynamics, and cross-cultural family experiences. It is also exciting to see the breadth of career opportunities available to students with an academic preparation in Human Development and Family Science. What greater calling can there be than to help people live committed and fulfilling lives within their families?

Mr. Paul Johns
My decision to get involved in family science is a complex mixture of life events, personal convictions, and divine providence. Life events and circumstances that motivated me to pursue working with families included the following: growing up as a mediator in a troubled family, experiencing a fire that destroyed our house at age 19 and taught me about the incredible value of family, church, and community, and growing up in a church body that crumbled from the inside out seemingly due to a lack of knowledge about how to deal with family problems. My passion to learn how to help people grew as I experienced and witnessed the crippling pain of relationship problems. Even when I began pursuing another career path, God kept stirring my heart to use the circumstances that had entered my life and my gifts to serve people. In a nutshell, my entrance into the field of family science is much more than a career aspiration. It is the pursuit of a mission to smoothly integrate my faith with established therapeutic methods driven by the goal of enlivening people in their love and service for God and others.

Dr. Robert Reyes

As I reflect about my journey in the field of family studies, I must confess that my attraction and motivation to study and support the well-being of families has always been social and communal in nature. As important as it is to address the specific developmental or relational challenges that individuals or families may face, for me the critical questions have always been about the larger social, economic, political factors that influence the stability of families at a more personal level. Therefore, my interests have always been in considering the well being of communities and exploring the availability and access to social resources needed so that its members can thrive and succeed. These factors include access to education, affordable housing and healthcare, meaningful employement and social support services.

That is why, for instance, in studying issues of acculturative stress and coping among Latino immigrant families, my examination of these issues has often gone beyond the personal level and examined the broader historical, economic and anti-immigrant policies that exacerbate this problem.

To respond to the needs of families requires that we take a look at larger systemic realities that keep children and families in conditions of poverty and marginalization in our country. As Cesar Chaves once remind us as he fought for the rights of farm worker families, “we cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about [the] progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others for their sake and for our own." (Cesar Chavez Foundation, 1995). That means that we must identify and advocate for those that we have been given the opportunity to serve.  Their fight must be our fight and their dreams must be our dreams.

Therefore, I hope that, through my work in the HDFS department, I can instill in the life of students the desire and passion to tackle oppressive social systems, to imagine new possibilities, and to work tirelessly with God’s grace to bring hope and opportunities to places where there is none.

Mrs. Dawn Gearhart
To someday be a teacher was always my heart's desire. I knew I wanted to be a first grade teacher when I was in first grade, and a second grade teacher when I was in second grade. High school home economics teachers did not impress me, and college preparatory courses left little time for home economics electives. But the professional utility company and extension home economists with whom I came in contact caught my attention with their consumer wisdom, breadth of knowledge, and ability to apply scientific principles to everyday life. I remember meeting Mary Eshleman, Messiah College home economics department head in the 1970's, who told us we were the smartest women on earth because we chose a profession which would complement home and family life. All of that was a long time ago, and while much has changed, much has remained the same. Balancing work life and family life remains a challenge for any of us in any career pathway. The family life cycle is chock full of joys, challenges, and transitions. The world in which we live is constantly changing and we change as we gain new experiences and perspectives. Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum is as diverse as the professionals who design the objectives and assessments which define the FCS standards. While being passionate about teaching teens to build strong families and to celebrate their family's strengths, my journey has led me to teach in a rural district, and in two residential settings whose population is ethnically diverse and economically poor. Every day is a growing experience because there are so many needs to be met with understanding and creativity by you, the FCS teacher/practitioner.

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