“I decided to get my PhD and go back to work after 15 years of being a homemaker”
One woman’s inspirational journey of rejoining the workforce at the age of 44
Before Smita Sharma got married, her dream was to become a doctor. But that would have meant another 5-8 years of studying, and her now-husband, who is 9 years older than her, couldn’t wait that long to get married. She did a diploma course in computers instead and began teaching, in an attempt to supplement the family income because “my husband was not earning very well at that time”.
Sharma’s love for education is palpable. She tried to do her masters in science, but having a young daughter, a full-time job and insufficient funds cut that dream short. Her daughter’s epilepsy diagnosis at the age of 5 turned her world upside down. “She had to be on medication for the rest of her life because there is no cure. So I decided to quit my job and stay home till she finished school. All these years I was a homemaker, but now I am determined to get my PhD.”
We found Sharma while collaborating with DeBeers Forevermark on their new campaign, centered around commitments we make to ourselves and to the people around us. This new campaign redefines the statement “I do”, a time-honoured and deeply emotional expression of intent. The campaign broadens the horizons on these two power-packed words to include personal pledges of all kinds.
In an era when ethics and values are paramount, ‘I do’ can also mean action and purpose. Be it DeBeers’ own commitments and action towards sustainability and responsible practices or Sharma’s commitment to her education and career.
While she was a homemaker, Sharma had enrolled for her PhD. But because she was singlehandedly taking care of her daughter and managing the house, she could never fully focus on getting her degree. “My husband was never interested in my career. My in-laws and my husband do not support me going back to work or getting a PhD even though they know I would be working. My parents and my daughter make up my entire support system.”
No matter how high the obstacles in her way stand, Sharma is determined to see her degree through and get a good job in her field.
She said, “I have made a commitment to myself. I realised that if you need to do something, you have to find ways and means to get it done. You can’t wait for everything to become alright. So, this time, I made a vow that I had to complete my PhD, no matter what.”
She works for 10 hours at home, then studied for two hours every night. “Even if I’m exhausted, I tell myself that the harder I work, the luckier I will get. I have to be a role model for my daughter who is now at the age when she is making her career choices. If I’m telling her that she needs to work and be independent, then I have to show her how by being independent myself.”