In Profile: AEC's Courtney Meyers talks career, experience as a working parent
Working Parents Day, observed this year in September, is dedicated to parents who work hard both at home and on the job to provide for their families. Courtney Meyers, an associate professor of agricultural education and communications at Texas Tech University, is all too familiar with the trials and tribulations that come with being a working parent.
Courtney and her husband Daniel have two daughters, Isabel, 7, and Amelia, 4, and are embarking on the parenting adventure in a less traditional way: with Courtney working full-time while Daniel is a stay-at-home dad.
Born in Kansas where she earned her bachelor's degree in agricultural communications and journalism from Kansas State University, Courtney continued on to earn her master's from the University of Arkansas and her Ph.D. from the University of Florida.
"I met my husband at Kansas State University where we earned our undergrad degrees," Courtney said. "When I finished my master's at the University of Arkansas, we got married and moved to Florida." She received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Gainsville, which soon led to a job offer from Texas Tech.
"I think Daniel knew when he left his job to go to Florida with me that my goal to pursue a Ph.D. would probably lead to a better paying position than he had," Courtney said. "He knew what he was getting into when he married me."
When Courtney and Daniel moved to Lubbock in 2008, their daughter Isabel was only six weeks old. "At the time, we thought it would be best to just wait to find childcare until we were more settled in Lubbock and could do some research," Courtney said. "But now it's seven years later and my husband is still staying at home with our kids."
After staying home with Isabel for a while after the move, Daniel said he couldn't imagine leaving her. "It really was a Godsend that he did that," Courtney said. "My first year of teaching was a blur; I was so sleep deprived and trying to figure out a new university system and new classes and new advising responsibilities, but I never had to worry about the girls being taken care of because he was always there."
With the requirements of Courtney's job often being very time-consuming, she said Daniel being at home has helped give her peace of mind when she's away from home. Though Daniel is one of very few stay-at-home dads in his daughters' schools, Courtney said his family has been supportive of his decision, despite the nontraditional stigma still attached to the role.
"I think the trend is there, more and more, that as women perhaps become the higher earners in the household, more men are becoming comfortable with the idea of staying home," Courtney said. "He's never bored. I think if I stayed home I would waste time, but he's always got housework, he's remodeled most of our house, he'll go shopping and cook and keep everything organized."
Courtney said she's proud of Daniel, and knows a lot of her success at Texas Tech is due to his willingness to take care of things at home. "It takes a strong individual to do what he's done and stay home with our girls," Courtney said. "I'm really thankful he's OK with that."
Courtney began at Texas Tech as an assistant professor in agricultural communications and has since been recognized for her teaching and research abilities. She has co-authored a number of award-winning research papers, serves as a co-sponsor for the Texas Tech chapter of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, and is currently serving a two-year term as Research Director for the Association for Communication Excellence.
Courtney said having children hasn't slowed down her career, but has actually helped her excel as a teacher. "I'm starting to recognize unique differences in my own children and appreciate that about them, and that extends to the way I treat students," she said. "By recognizing that students come from very diverse backgrounds and have different strengths, I've learned that just because a student may not be good in one area doesn't mean they won't be good in another. I think being a parent has made me a more well-rounded teacher."
Written by Cara Vandergriff
CONTACT: Steven Fraze, Chair, Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2816 or firstname.lastname@example.org
0917NM15 / For a full text version of the TTU Communications and Marketing article, click http://today.ttu.edu/posts/2015/09/working-parent-courtney-meyers
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