Why choose the same career as Mom or Dad?

Recently I interviewed a young man without knowing that there was another man, older, with the same name and in the same profession. They were father and son and both doctors. I spoke with the son on the occasion of his graduation from the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. I inquired about his experience as a member of the historic first class and pointedly questioned him about his career path: Who or what had influenced his decision to become a physician? He spoke of having a great respect for his former pediatrician and an interest in working with people, as well as a love of science.

Four generations: Young Daniel, resting on the ledge, with his grandfather (Agustin), great-grandfather (Agustin W.) and father (Daniel) in 1993, when all three men were physicians at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Young Daniel recently graduated from FIU’s medical school.

Four generations: Young Daniel, resting on the ledge, with his grandfather (Agustin), great-grandfather (Agustin W.) and father (Daniel) in 1993, when all three men were physicians at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Young Daniel recently graduated from FIU’s medical school.

What he didn’t tell me until the last two minutes of our 40-minute meeting—and this only when I specifically asked if there were another doctor in the family—was that his father practiced medicine. Then he casually dropped that his grandfather and great grandfather had donned the white coat as well. The fourth-generation doctor appeared proud of his heritage—make no doubt about that—but he certainly took pains to downplay it. His dad, whom I soon after contacted for the backstory, told me that the youngster likely simply wanted to be judged on his own merits.

Makes sense to me. What individual wants to be viewed as nothing more than a mini-me or carbon copy, especially when a lot of time, effort and mental output have gone into achieving a particular degree or position. Maybe the young doctor figured that going into the family business might suggest to others that he lacked imagination, that he somehow took the “easy way out” by clicking on a kind of cosmic default button.

On the contrary, I found his accepting the familial baton nothing short of fascinating, and I could only imagine his family’s pride at seeing history repeat itself in such an important way.

Got me to thinking: How much influence do parents have on their children’s choice of livelihood? Watching Mom or Dad go off to the office, the fire station, the salon, the classroom, the theater or wherever he or she works certainly leaves an impression, be it for the good or the bad.

A 2001 study by the career services office of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that parents, at least of college students, don’t believe they exert a strong influence on their offspring’s selection of a line of work. Those same parents stated that factors such as individual talent and interest, in addition to marketplace demands, should take precedence over any personal dreams and desires they might harbor for their progeny. Wow, that’s a refreshing dose of reality.

I caught up with a few Panthers who followed in their parents’ footsteps to see why they walked that line.

Daniel Garrido

Shared passion
Daniel F. Garrido earned his bachelor’s in nursing from FIU in 2011 to enter a profession shared by his mom and his dad (notably, both also FIU nursing alumni). What drove the two of them ingrained itself in Daniel as well. “My parents have always thought of others before they take care of themselves,” he says. “I was raised on those values, and I will carry them throughout my life.” In his case, Daniel, currently at Larkin Community Hospital, will take his education and his dream one step further by attending medical school—he has applied to several in Florida, including FIU’s—as early as fall of 2014.

Marie Arango Palomino

A chance to work together
For College of Law alumna Marie Arango Palomino ’12, the benefits of continuing a family tradition are numerous. “There are many pros to my decision to follow in my father’s footsteps. The most important and valuable one to me is the opportunity to help him as he nears retirement,” she says about one day moving into a practice focused on personal injury, maritime and product liability law. “I intend on working at his firm and lightening his load as he grows older.”

Behind-the-scenes education
Exposure from a young age to what would be his eventual profession gave FIU football Assistant Coach Cameron Turner, son of FIU football Head Coach Ron Turner, a rare insider view. “Being around it, you learn about it, and that’s what you know and you’re comfortable with,” says the one-time quarterback for the Citadel. During his father’s eight years at the University of Illinois, young Cameron served as ball boy and sat in on team meetings and watched as his dad got to know recruits and their families. Perhaps not surprisingly, Cameron’s brother Morgan is tight ends coach at Stanford.

For the record, my own parents were in small manufacturing (a business that my brother has taken over), and I work with words (an activity my 11-year-old son has embraced in earnest).

Got your own story to share? Looking forward to hearing from you.

— Alexandra Pecharich