Meet Melissa Raguet-Schofield. A doctoral candidate in the Anthropology Department at the University of Illinois, recently Melissa successfully defended her dissertation — just four months after giving birth to her first child, Will. A health and fitness enthusiast, she’s a vegan (most of the time!) who has run eight marathons.
Melissa met her husband, Rob, when they were undergraduates at the U of I. They have been married for eight years. They welcomed their son to the family on August 12.
See why we think Melissa — make that Dr. Melissa — is a Chambana Mom to Know.
Q: What have you learned about yourself since William was born?
A: We had a lot of problems at the beginning, and I learned just how tenacious and persistent I can be. Getting through the first several months was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but when something was important to my son’s well being, I learned that I had the capacity to go to the ends of the earth for it. (My husband refers to this particular character trait of mine as just plain “stubborn,” but it has served me well!) I think that all mothers have this tenacity, and I wish that more women gave themselves credit for how strong they can be.
Q: How in the world did you manage to prepare to defend your dissertation with a newborn in the house? You are our hero.
A: Thanks! I had my dissertation pretty much finished before Will was born. In fact, the night I went into labor, I received an email from my thesis advisor telling me that he had read through my latest draft and thought it was defensible. I did have a bit of work to do after Will was born, but no major changes. Will was not (and still isn’t!) much of a napper, so most of the time when I worked my dissertation, I had Will strapped into the Baby Bjorn while I gently rocked on the exercise ball to keep him calm. As my defense date got closer, I bundled up Will and took him for walks through Urbana as I read through the major points of my dissertation and tried to anticipate the types of questions my committee members would ask. I was also very lucky to have such a supportive and child-friendly thesis committee. My advisor even made a “dissertation house-call” shortly after Will was born, so we could talk about my thesis and I wouldn’t have to deal with loading up a newborn and coming to campus. My husband brought Will to my defense, and it was a great confidence booster to have them both there.
Q: You are a runner. How have you been able to incorporate exercise into your post-baby life?
A: It has been very hard! I think most people thought I would bounce back from pregnancy/birth easily because I was so physically active before, but it has been quite a challenge. I try to run a few times a week whenever I have a chance. I usually too tired to run in the mornings, so most of the time I end up waiting until the evening when my husband gets home from work. I am so much slower than I was before though! To keep myself motivated, I already signed up for the Illinois Marathon this spring. As the weather gets nicer, I’m sure you’ll see me running through C-U with Will in the jogging stroller.
Q: Does having a baby in the house change or enhance your holiday celebrations this year?
A: Well, we are going for a “minimalist” holiday this year! It has been pretty stressful with an infant and my recent dissertation defense to do much in the way of holiday preparations. We finally managed to get a Christmas tree and put a few ornaments on it, but that’s about it. We are lucky because both my family and my husband’s family live in Illinois, so we are looking forward to spending time with both sets of grandparents.
Q: You son has a Twitter account. Is Facebook next?
A: Ha! No plans for Facebook yet! I think we’ll just stick with Twitter for now!
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