Image Photo by Federico Enni on Unsplash

Raising A Science-Based Daughter

The world will be tough enough for her. I’m not adding ignorance to her list of burdens.

René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH
5 min readFeb 6, 2022


One morning back in the 1980s, mom and I crossed the border from Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, to check out the garage sales. This was a favorite pastime of my mother’s as she could find deals on things that we needed around the house, clothes that my grandmother could sell to make some extra money, or toys that were not expensive. We would get up early in the morning, get in the car, and set out to the suburbs of El Paso.

The best deals were in the homes close to Fort Bliss, since military families were always on the move and always looking to get rid of things.

On that particular morning, we came across a garage sale where a blue container was being sold for $10. I opened the container to find a light microscope with extra slides and lenses. Mom agreed to buy it for me, and the world has never been the same.

The minute I got back home, I set it up according to the instructions, and I went out to the yard to collect things to look at. That whole afternoon, I looked at leaves, sand, rocks, drops of water, and even some of my own skin cells. I was amazed at all of it, even if I didn’t know what I was looking at.

Mom went one step further and bought me a children’s encyclopedia from a door-to-door salesman. There were about 20 books filled with knowledge. I went through all of them, learning as much as possible. And it all complemented well with my studies in public school.

Not to be outdone, my father — a car mechanic with a basic education — never hesitated to explain to me things when I asked him. He also taught me things, like the fact that a car was a Faraday cage in a lightning storm, or how the rack and pinion steering system worked. It is because of him that engines with a thousand moving parts are not complex things to me.

But that was my parents. How about me? The challenges I face now as a parent are different than the challenges faced by my parents. Where they had religious relatives whose ideas conflicted with my understanding of the universe, my wife and I have nothing but scientists and secular friends. My in-laws are not opposed to anything scientific…



René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH

DrPH in Epidemiology. Associate/JHBSPH. Adjunct/GMU. Epidemiologist. Father. Husband. (He/Him/His/El)