A girl born in the 1950s was raised with certain expectations and goals that are much different from the girl born in the 21st century.

My mother was one of those moms from the “June Cleaver” generation, which meant her days were spent cleaning and cooking and having dinner on the table promptly at 5 p.m. to please the breadwinner of the family. My dad did not want my mom to work; that would have meant that he was not a good provider and that’s how the household was run.

I grew up observing my mom cleaning, and ironing every piece of clothing including the sheets and underwear. Her home was beyond spotless and she took great pride in her work. So it wasn’t surprising that I grew up with some of those values and goals to find a good husband to provide for me and get a minimal college education after high school graduation.

So I went to a junior college and obtained a medical assisting degree; I was able to get a position in the medical field and began to realize I could make my own money. I married at a young age, 19, just as my mom had done, and was on my own. It was not until then that I realized that I could be my own person and began to feel fulfilled working in the health fields.

Let me tell you, the skills of cleaning and cooking are not inherited and I gleaned much more pleasure working in the health-related profession and helping people.

I went on to specialize in ophthalmology, became certified in the field and returned to college to obtain my bachelor’s degree in gerontology when I was well into my 30s. I found that it is never too late to get education and an “older” student is much smarter and much more dedicated to learning.

I was lucky enough to realize that if I was going to continue working for many more years, I knew it had to be something that fulfilled me while giving back at the same time. It seems so difficult for our young people to choose something they will be able to spend many years doing that will make them happy. That’s why they need to take the time to choose how they will spend their productive years. Don’t go for just the bucks; that pleasure will last for only so long. Take time to pick a profession that will bring both happiness and make an adequate living. The money will come if you excel in your field and happiness will be yours for all those working years.

Many of us will not be able to retire at age 65 completely; I will always want to do something with the public. My profession has not brought me excessive riches, but it has given me great satisfaction for more than 35 years in the workforce.

I still live by my mantra: Slow and steady wins the race. It may have taken me a few years longer to figure out that I can be a breadwinner as well, and dedication and time in a field does bring not only money but a greater satisfaction for self-worth.