The Contentment Gene

Irina Pearson / Roundup

Jamie Beavers-Taylor knows a lot about genetics and some of her colleagues at Pierce College convinced she might have even discovered a new gene.

She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology and was a Genetic Counselor prior to getting her master’s at CSUN and coming to teach full-time at Pierce starting this semester.

Back then she worked with expecting parents who had a potential risk of having a child with genetic disorders. Her research and testing helped couples to decide whether or not to terminate pregnancy depending on their particular case.

“Every human being should make a decision how to live,” says Beavers-Taylor, noting that although the responsibilities she carried as a counselor were great, making the final and often very difficult choice was entirely up to the parents.

After years of working as a Genetic Counselor, she decided to turn to teaching and quickly discovered that her knowledge and experience benefited her work tremendously. During lectures she often describes most unique cases to her students and lets them guess the outcome.

“My biostudents are very much about it,” Beavers-Taylor says. “We had an interesting case last month of such an abnormal combination of genes that no one could even predict the possible result. My students were arguing over the outcome, which I revealed to them later.”

Beavers-Taylor has taught at CSUN for a short period of time before coming to Pierce. “The atmosphere here is just better somehow,” she says.

She continues to counsel part-time, while teaching at Pierce but juggling several things at a time is not new for the professor.

“I did all my schooling while raising four sons and working different jobs,” she says smiling. “I found myself divorced and it was hard, but I’m glad I didn’t give up,” she adds. “Education is the only thing no one can take away from you.”

She talks with pride about her now grown-up children, all of them on their way of becoming accomplished in different fields of engineering, movie-making, photography and writing.

Her eldest lives and works in Switzerland while her youngest is already half-way through with writing his first novel. Both are clearly taking after their mother in talent and perseverance.

“It’s funny, but every one of my four sisters has sons. It must be something in our genes,” she says laughing. She jokes that “King Henry VIII shouldn’t had been so angry with his wives” since “it’s the male who determines the sex of the baby.”

They have six children together with her husband now and for all girls out there looking for a perfect guy, the professor has a bit of advice: “Don’t settle. Wait until you find the one who will be passing by your house just to catch a glimpse of you.”

As the interview was coming to an end, one of her colleagues, Amy Hernandez, a Life Science lab technician, came in and said nodding at Beavers-Taylor: “She has a Contentment gene. People might think it doesn’t even exist, but she definitely carries it and it is contagious!”.

The unique gene carrier smiles and says: “I believe anyone can achieve anything. It can be hard, but I did it and so can you.”

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