An Unexpected Trajectory

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Emily Swensen Darowski

Assistant Librarian, Harold B. Lee Library


In my experience, life follows an unexpected trajectory: it is purposefully and divinely unique. The key is making decisions by study and by faith and confidently trusting that the Lord has our back, so to speak. With this attitude, we can more fully appreciate the diversity in women around us. We start to ask, “How did the Lord bring you here?” rather than, “Why didn’t you end up there?” We value the multitude of choices that any one person can make, celebrate the individual journey, and rejoice in knowing we’re all working towards the same eternal outcomes.

Here’s a bit of my ongoing journey:

At the end of my undergraduate studies, I found myself deciding between going on a mission and enrolling in graduate school. I decided to continue my education and started a cognitive psychology PhD program. I threw myself into the experience, but often felt pulled in multiple directions. I wanted to be a stellar researcher, but I wanted to have a family. I grappled with whether those two desires could co-exist. I wasn’t even married at this point. After a few years, I did get married and we started our family in the midst of our graduate programs. It was incredibly challenging and I often thought about exiting my program with the master’s degree. I knew the Lord would be ok with that, and yet, I felt urged to finish the PhD. I felt there were specific blessings that would come over time if I persevered.

I will say that I did not finish the PhD as a stellar researcher; I was adequate. This was a result of how I personally chose to shift time and energy between school and family. I’m learning it’s ok to change goals and change them again. After graduation, I taught psychology full-time at a university and then switched to part-time to spend more time at home with my growing family. Now I find myself working full-time again, but as a subject librarian. We’ll see where life goes from here.

Even more than providing needed income, my education has changed the way I think. This is the most critical result of an education. This is the personal transformation that impacts my children on a daily basis and will continue to influence my work as a librarian at BYU.


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