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Finding direction for daughter's future worth the trip

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We have a lot to be thankful for on Thursday. Of course, we are thankful for the many baby additions in our family since January and that we live in an awesome community.

But as of last week, we can confidently and with thanksgiving say there will probably not be a marine biologist in our immediate family. Since she has two older sisters, our 16-year-old daughter Phoebe, who is a junior in high school, has repeatedly heard the questions: What do you want to study in college? and What do you want to be when you grow up?

Having attended numerous high school graduation parties, she has heard the laments from college-bound young men and women who tire of these questions, mostly because they’re really not sure when they give an answer.

So for the past couple of years (as her sisters were finishing up their undergraduate degrees), Phoebe, not sure about what she wanted to do but knowing she enjoyed lab work, scuba diving, snorkeling and her new biology teacher, Mrs. Webb, decided the answer to “the question” would be marine biology.

Phoebe’s marine biology career often emerged in conversation between her father and me on Wednesday mornings as we traveled to Franklin to have breakfast with Steve’s mom at Don and Dona’s.

Me: “I can’t believe Phoebe’s a junior. Seems like she was just a toddler a minute ago.”

Steve: “Uh-huh.”

Me: “So do you see her as a marine biologist?”

Steve: “No, but she is a great swimmer and already knows how to (scuba) dive.”

Me: “Whatever she does should probably include using the many words she has.”

It was that day when we made her an appointment with Fadely and Debrota Career Counseling.

They sent a Strong’s Interest Inventory questionnaire. Phoebe filled it out, sent it back in and made an appointment to get the results.

Last week, she and I traveled to their office near the Pyramids on the northwest side of Indy. Arriving a few minutes early, Phoebe noted that she loved all the kinesthetic puzzle-like games and re-posed the 24-inch wooden human mannequin into a ballet pose, which stood on the bookshelf among the others.

Dr. Debrota first pointed out that Phoebe (through her answers) has an “outgoing but oddly analytical personality” and is definitely a people person who would do best working with people (not dolphins). She likes learning and sharing facts and has a strong sense of being right.

Before Debrota explained how her answers most match professionals with similar traits, he first noted that she did not answer the questions like a marine biologist — “not that you can’t be one, but personally, if I were you, I wouldn’t study to be a marine biologist. I wouldn’t even date one.”


Her top three interest areas were protective services, military, and politics and public speaking.

Phoebe thought Debrota pegged her: study communications, television/radio or journalism as an undergrad, and keep up with her Spanish (you don’t have to minor in it — no one cares what your grades are — but you have to know how to speak it and write it).

He also suggested she volunteer in the Hispanic community. And after her undergraduate studies, go to law school.

Debrota noted that her answers show traits that she would enjoy working with a governmental agency, helping the Hispanic population with their legal challenges. Or in an international agency.

He added, “You will still be using your trait of being a helper, but it will be with people and not marine animals.”

Debrota also suggested that both Ball State and Indiana University have great communications programs, but IU might be a better match because of its more international makeup.

Money well spent — although if she were a marine biologist, we could vacation near the ocean.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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