The 17 Year Pause

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The 17 Year Pause -- Boundless Genealogy

A little over 17 years ago, I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Family History-Genealogy from Brigham Young University. This was a big deal to me! It had been a lifelong goal, and I was the first woman in my direct family lines to graduate from college. I had watched so many female relatives struggle to provide for a family without an education when life circumstances like injury, death of or divorce from a spouse came upon them. I was absolutely determined to finish my degree no matter what!

I was also ecstatic to have graduated in a field I was passionate about; I was only 22 and I already had nearly a decade of genealogical research experience under my belt. I had great ambitions in mind when I graduated… visions of a Master’s degree, and earning the distinction of becoming an Accredited and a Certified Genealogist.

On the other hand, another life goal of mine was to be married and have a family. I was blessed with the opportunity to marry my best friend, John, during our college years. We welcomed our first child before our first anniversary. By the time I graduated, we had a one-year-old and I was expecting baby number 2. At that time, the right choice for me was to put my professional goals on pause and focus on my family goals.

The 17 Year Pause -- Boundless Genealogy

The 17 Year Pause -- Boundless Genealogy

The 17 Year Pause -- Boundless Genealogy

For many years, my personal family history work was sandwiched in between diaper changes, soccer games, mealtimes, and chauffeuring. These have been amazing, challenging, personal growth-filled, full years. In fact, I am still in the middle of these years, with the oldest off to college and the youngest preschool-aged.

The 17 Year Pause -- Boundless Genealogy

Yet, the time feels right for me to pick back up my professional goals and unpause them. Inspired by many people and events over the past few years, I have committed myself to speaking again at genealogy conferences, and I am in the middle of the Accreditation process with ICAPGen. I think it is safe to say I am leaving off the goal of returning for a Master’s degree at this point… I have no desire to return to college with my kids. But, Certification may still be an option in a few years. For now, I am happy to get working on my professional genealogy goals again!

Cordial Genealogy Wishes,


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  1. Life does get in the way, sometimes, doesn’t it? However, look at all the new family history memories that have been created during the past 17 years. 🙂 Hope you attain all of your goals.

  2. Melissa, I love this post. Since you and I have very similar stories, it’s fun to read your thoughts. Isn’t it wonderful to be a wife, mother, and genealogist?! Such a good life! The picture of you sitting at the old computer by the bookshelf with a baby on your lap reminds me of my BYU Wymount Terrace apartment years ago.

    • Thank you, Jana. It is awesome to have a “twin” gen-friend! That photo was taken in our Wymount Terrace apartment. Too funny; good eye for spotting that.

  3. So proud and excited for you! Mom 🙂

  4. I love this! I am in a similar place. Except for me, I did teach for a bit in the middle (Kindergarten) and I have an 11 year gap between my bottom two kiddos – not intentional, just fertility issues. I’m planning to earn the Boston University Genealogy Certificate this Spring, participate in a Pro-Gen study group next year, and then go on the clock after that. My youngest is in Kindergarten this year so the timing feels right for me. I teach classes locally and LOVE that. I think you and I have similar goals. Good luck with everything this year!

    • Thank you, Amberly. This is a fun place to be in, still mothering children at home, but ready to achieve more personal goals. Best wishes for all of your goals, as well. Can’t wait to hear about your progress.

  5. I can completely empathise with you. I have wanted to be a genealogist since I was a small child as I was completely passionate and ‘obsessed’ by my ancestors. But my career, marriage and children took me down a different path until at the age of 50 I had more time to myself and graduated with a masters degree in genealogy.
    Best wishes with all your ambitions and goals – it’s never too late to achieve them.

  6. I know how you feel. I set aside genealogy to get married, start a teaching career, and be a Mom. But it was when my daughter started asking about the family tree that I began to feel like dipping back into genealogy again. It was perfect for when she was older, and then in college and when I was an empty nester. Now as a grandmother I find less time to blog and speak, but somehow it gets done. I guess life cycles go up and down, and so does time for genealogy.

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