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Fabienne Doucet began her college career as a pre-med major with plans to become a pediatrician. "I loved kids and wanted to take care of kids," she explains, "and that's where I thought I was headed." She even shadowed her childhood pediatrician to get a glimpse of the field in action. But soon, inundated with the intense science requirements of a pre-med major, Fabienne realized science was not for her. "Meanwhile," she reveals, "I was taking a sociology class and without even trying very hard I was falling in love with it and really enjoying the process." The social sciences had called Fabienne.
Fabienne moved from what she thought she wanted to do to an academic field that really ignited her passion - now she just needed to find a way to integrate it with her desire to work with kids. Then everything clicked: "It sort of dawned on me that maybe being a physician wasn't what I was supposed to do," Fabienne says. "But that didn't mean that I couldn't care about kids and do things to help kids. So that's when I started to explore careers that could keep that interest. Because I knew that God had given me this passion for kids for a reason, and it was just a matter of finding out what that something was."
Upon finally settling on a major in behavioral science, Fabienne threw herself into the opportunities that Messiah College presented, both within and outside of her field. She tutored at the Writing Center, worked with Student Activities Board and the Messiah College Student Association, and even ran track in her first year. But Fabienne did more. She also spent a year at the Philadelphia campus, taking Temple University classes in child development. Through these classes she met her mentor, Professor Diane Scott Jones, who took her to Chicago for a summer research project in which they conducted interviews with adolescent mentors. Through the diverse experiences provided through Messiah, Fabienne knew she had found the right direction for her life.
Fabienne found that not only did her major supply her with the training she needed for her field, but her general Messiah experience also proved invaluable in her professional development. Through intellectually stimulating courses and discourse at Messiah, Fabienne was "being socialized into the life of an academic." Specifically, the skills Fabienne gained - including writing, maintaining relationships, and networking - became essential in her later career.
After her experiences in the human development field, Fabienne knew she wanted to pursue vocation in an academic atmosphere. While she had previously worked with children through research and discussion, she realized that she could have a great impact through teaching. But she also knew she wanted to teach in an atmosphere that would allow for continued research, and she determined that graduate and doctoral programs leading to a professorship would be her best option. She entered into study at the University of North Carolina, and eventually she began working through a post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Fabienne could not remain a post-doctoral fellow forever. Fortunately, the time she spent with her graduate advisor/mentor at a conference in New Mexico paid off in more than just field experience. There she had met a dean from the University of Connecticut who said to get in touch with him if she ever needed a job. Fabienne contacted the dean during her job-hunting process, set up an interview, and eventually received a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Family Studies at the University of Connecticut.
Fabienne's job is a perfect blend of research and teaching. She conducts classes for both undergraduate and graduate students, including a course in diversity. In addition to her teaching, she leads research groups with her graduate students. Fabienne also finds time for her own research and writing, and on top of all that she is the faculty advisor for her university's student dance group. She often takes her group out for a night of salsa dancing. "God was just setting this up from the beginning," Fabienne says of her job, the ultimate combination of her academic drive and interest in parent-child relationships (with a little salsa thrown in for flavor).
• "Be open to being creative - don’t box yourself in."
• "Pursue the interests of your heart, because God is the one who put them there."
• "Realize and recognize that God uses us in every aspect of life."
Fabienne's job works contribute to an essential service for the human race, though she certainly sees it in less grandiose terms. "One of the passions that I think God has given me," she remarks, "is that I really want to see people reconciled to one another: schools to parents, parents to children, different races to other ethnicities." Through her work, Fabienne is striving to settle the disputes and heal the wounds left by the continued misunderstandings between people of different cultures and backgrounds. "We all have been scared, misinformed," Fabienne says, "but we all have ultimately the same goals." Fabienne wants to see us united as children of God and knows that through her work, she will help us move towards that goal.
"With every new experience," Fabienne imparts, "as the world moves and continues to go on, you're exposed to so many different things." Though she may always maintain a career in an academic field, Fabienne views learning as part of her continuing vocational process. "I always make sure that I don't just get comfortable," she explains, "with people who have the same ideas as me." Fabienne knows that the learning process doesn't stop when one finishes school; rather, it continues with every person met and each book read. It is Fabienne's goal to purposefully keep interacting with other people so she never stops learning about the world and those who inhabit it.
Discover the career journeys of other Messiah grads who work in higher education:
Stephen Lias, professor of music theory
Robin Miller, head of slide library
Jon Benda, professor of foreign languages and literature
Kimberly Thornbury, dean of students
Tonya King, associate professor of biostatistics
Owen Byer, professor of mathematics
Profile by Angela Kriebel, 2005