Laura Daniels is living proof for LDS moms that a woman's interests and personal pursuits need not end when motherhood begins.
This summer a prototype for a new generation of bus-stop shelters created by Sister Daniels, a part-time architecture student and the mother of three children ranging in age from 15 months to 5 years, was selected by Broward County (Fla.) Transit for design development and countywide implementation.
The honor rewarded the study of architecture Sister Daniels first undertook in 2003. She steadily forged ahead on a part-time basis at Florida Atlantic University and, come December, she'll receive her Bachelor of Architecture. The forthcoming degree won't even be the first college diploma for Sister Daniels, a skilled flute player who earned a music degree from BYU before moving back east for her husband's job.
"Architecture had always been a hobby for me," she said. "I didn't major in it at BYU because they didn't have it. When I moved to Florida, I found this school down the street from where I worked that had architecture, and I decided to take a class.
"I didn't expect it to be a six-and-a-half-years thing, but because it was a hobby I liked it. And I liked it so much, my husband and I both felt good about me doing it, so it ended up being this huge degree."
It's a journey that, with three young children in the picture, would have been impossible without the full support of her husband, Jared, a computer engineer for Motorola. A native of Salt Lake City, Sister Daniels also cites the close-knit nature of her Plantation Ward in the Fort Lauderdale Florida Stake as a source of strength.
"It is a challenge," she said. "I stay up late a lot, and my husband watches the kids a lot, and I have good friends. A lot of the other people in the ward here don't have family [nearby] — they're like us in that regard. We rely on each other, and that's really nice to have.
"But when my kids are awake and I'm here, I just give them my time."
When, where and how her architectural skills get put to use are decisions Sister Daniels hasn't made yet. One thing's for certain, though — a well-deserved sabbatical is in her immediate future.
"I want to use [architecture] in the future," she said. "I don't know how soon. If nothing else, maybe something part-time or working at home. But right now I definitely want to take a break for a while."