Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

What I Missed In College

on May 16, 2013

This trip was not our usual adventure to the local public library to enjoy the “Move and Groove” or “Toddler Time” programs, check out books, and select new DVDs.  A few Sunday evenings back, after enjoying supper at a special restaurant with our neighbor, we stopped at Kansas State University’s Hale Library.

(Photo credit

We were on a bit of a mission and had our small children along, so we didn’t tarry much.   To get to the area where I expected us to find the equipment we were looking for, we passed many groups of students studying and working together.  Some were writing equations on dry erase boards, erasing them, and trying again.  The sight of equations and variables that I didn’t quite understand but knew I could – or did at some time at least – brought me tingles of excitement as we walked past, much in the same way that hearing engineering students talk about physics or chemistry or transport phenomena was a sweet elixir to me as I silently graded my business students’ papers (back in my teaching days) in the engineering building that is dear to me.  (I spent hours upon hours in this building as an undergrad.)

We were there to find out if a slide scanner was available to the public.  (It is!)  Once our task was completed, I felt we needed to check out a few special aspects of the library.  It was the first time my husband and neighbor had been inside, and it’s been long enough that I don’t think Clara remembers her prior visits (which were likely centered on me running my final exams through the scantron machine).

Of course, we had to see the elevator and go for a ride.  Clara is 2.  That was her choice.  🙂

Mine was to take the elevator to the third floor to show our group the Great Room.

(Photo credit)

(Why didn’t I study here in college?  This seems much better than the dining room tables at the cooperative living house where I resided for 4.5 years, but then, I don’t suppose I’d want to be on campus at 4 a.m. finishing the thermodynamics homework that was due that day when I could be in my pajamas sipping milk…)

There are large murals on the walls opposite the grand windows.  I had never really looked at them before, and it had been years since I had even been in this room.  One of the murals excited me by depicting science and technology, but another held my attention in a deeper way.

This one.

Hale Library mural

(photo credit)

This seemed the perfect, peaceful life to me.  This woman gently rocks the cradle while reading to her child.  She is there for her hard-working husband.  She sings and plays piano (like me).  She spins and sews, no doubt (unlike me).  I imagine her life being not easy, but fulfilling and blessed.

As an undergrad, I spent four and a half years working hard to try to understand calculus, solve physics problems, learn chemical reactions, and many other challenging endeavors to prepare myself for a job in chemical engineering.  I learned life lessons from my other activities, such as playing in the marching band, tutoring and teaching labs, living with 50+ other girls, promoting chemistry and engineering through Alpha Chi Sigma and Engineering Ambassadors, connecting Chemical Engineering students with mentors through AIChE, and a host of other involvements.  But I never remembering hearing the message of:

A woman can find everything she needs at home.

She can use and challenge her most highly-educated brain there.  She can nurture others through caring for her family and showing hospitality.  She can use the most refined musical talents there.  She can learn and develop new skills.  She can help build a marriage that will be infinitely more rewarding and secure than any pay check.

Now, honestly, I think I’m probably thankful I didn’t hear that message too much in college since I had many years to wait until God brought my amazing husband into my life.  By His grace, I was able to support myself financially, grow significantly in my walk with the Lord, become a leader in campus ministry at my church,  and live some very rich years before I married at age 29.  But, I also wish that there may have been a few women in my life who would have shared what this picture spoke to my heart when I saw it instead of hearing repeatedly how more women are needed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields to balance the workforce.

Yes, study fields you are interested in, develop the talents you have, go into the workforce, pursue God and let Him use you…

…but, don’t cling to all of that so tightly that you aren’t willing to come home when He calls you.

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12 responses to “What I Missed In College

  1. LeAnn Church says:

    Amen! Very well said Dana, and a message that seems to be forgotten today by many. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dana K says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words, LeAnn! It’s a message too seldom shared, I think. I dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom growing up (while at the same time wanting to be a scientist and many other things), but I nearly lost sight of that dream when I was actually blessed with a family to stay home with.

  2. Lisa Meyer says:

    Dana I remember you at that table at 4am very well! What a thoughtful perspective. Interestingly enough it was in college that I did hear this message you are describing through a book, “What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us.” I read about the book on the Focus on the Family college student website “Boundless” which I was reading often before I became a Christian. It started my shift to stay at home motherhood which is where I am today. If it wasn’t for the influence of the Christians in our scholarship house I know I would be in a very different situation today. I did go in that room of the library though, but since I never studied in college, I didn’t do much studying there! It is a very cool room! It makes you want to have a reason to go there!

  3. jl735i says:

    Love this! I have been taking classes on and off through KState none the less for years. Will one day graduate with a degree (in something), but so thankful that I heard God’s call when my oldest needed me and can now be home with the two youngest babies.

    • Dana K says:

      What a blessing that you answered God’s call! Taking classes while managing family life is not something I’ve been good at. I wish you the best as you nurture your family and pursue your degree! I’d love to cheer you on when you graduate! (Seeing my students graduate is one thing I kind of miss from teaching at K-State.)

  4. my6gifts says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Look at the beautiful murals has inspired me to take my children over to K-State library, so we can study, discuss, and find out the history of each one. I haven’t been on campus in over 18 years, so any hints you’d like to share, please pass on, we just recently moved back to the area and I’m hoping this summer to take my kids on some field trips over to Manhattan and planned a trip to K-State, figured it’d be easier and a little less hectic to take them during the summer when there’s not all the students.

    • Dana K says:

      What a great idea! I’d love to learn what your research discovers! There is easy parking right across from the library that should be available frequently during the summer. Parking is free after 5. Hale Library has some adjusted hours, I think, during summer, so check the website for those. There’s also a new WWII memorial on the north side of McCain, so if a history study is part of your trip, visiting the war memorials (Memorial Stadium, Vietnam memorial, WWII memorial) may be a discussion point. Also, I haven’t been there for a while, but the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art (south of McCain) is free and fun. It all depends on what you’d like to do or see. Enjoy your trip! You may also search for Arts in the Park events in the evenings that are free at City Park if you’re interested in concerts, and the city swimming pools are AMAZING (in my opinion) if the kids need a break to cool off.

  5. I love this Dana. I could not agree more! I now face what I will do when both are in school. I really want to stay home but society points otherwise. I have 4 years to decide so I pray an answer will come! Ps I loved the reading room at Hale. I always tried to study there when on campus but sometimes I was too distracted by the vastness of the room to actually study.

    • Dana K says:

      Tatum, thanks for your comment! An answer will come. Don’t look to society to show you what’s right for your family. (I know you know that if you’re already at home.) 🙂 I always felt strange when women would be really supportive of me leaving work to stay home – but would add something like, “And you can always go back to work when the kids go to school.” We are exploring what homeschooling looks like and if it may be best for us, and God keeps blessing us with little ones, so I don’t have a timeline for when the “milestone” of the youngest turning 5 will happen – or a plan for that being the re-start of my job/career. I don’t know what God has planned, but I’m getting more excited all the time! I pray He’ll guide and direct you to what will be best for you and your family in the years to come!

  6. Laureen E says:

    thanks for the post, my husband shared that a few wks. back at a local school career day (public school, we homeschool but he works with his business to help kids in the ps as well) they shared all about STEM and the need for more girls and all that they were doing to attract them, he said it actually made him cry, thinking of all the girls that would be led there, but would stay there and miss the blessing of family life.

    • Dana K says:

      Laureen, your comment made me think about some of the research that is being done to learn why women are not pursuing STEM fields in the same numbers men are and why those that do are not moving through the promotional ranks in academia in the same ways men are. I think this warrants an additional post. I appreciate you and your husband’s heart for these girls! Keep praying for these girls and women.

  7. […] reader comment to my post on What I Missed In College got me to thinking about the push to encourage girls to explore and enter STEM (Science, […]

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