Interesting places and extraordinary people - Dr Deagon's rewarding Home Economics career

Published:21 March 2019

CQUniversity Senior Lecturer Dr Jay Deagon radiates love for all things Home Economics. Here she is pictured at the Seven Women cookery skills class in Nepal. Photo Credit: Phil Hines.

From Australia to Ireland, the Czech Republic, South Korea, and Nepal, CQUni Senior Lecturer Dr Jay Deagon’s interest in Home Economics has led her to meet extraordinary people from around the globe.

In recent years, Dr Deagon has been involved in the Queensland Country Women’s Association Country Kitchens program, worked with non-government organisation Seven Women to help teach Nepalese women cookery skills, and led the first-ever Home Economics outbound trip, which provided students with an insight into Nepali culture.

For someone who radiates love for all things Home Economics, it’s hard to believe that Dr Deagon accidentally discovered her career choice.

“I fell into Home Economics by accident. Originally, I wanted to be a drama or music teacher, but I’m so glad I was given a sixth University preference because, within a few weeks of my undergraduate studies, I was hooked. I am now one of 14 teachers in my family!” Dr Deagon said.

“Home Economics is life skills 101. Fundamentally, it’s about cooking and sewing which sounds uncomplicated, but as a discipline, it is one of few subjects that teach students life principles and practices through applied, hands-on and practical strategies.

“For secondary school students, it is a field of study that exposes them to many possible career and life pathways. Not every student will go to university, but every student needs to know how to cook, clothe and manage themselves in their unique environments.

“Personally, it provides me with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions, and has made me curious about the world and to want to actively participate in it.”

Throughout her PhD study, which focused on the spiritual health and well-being aspects of Home Economics, including quality relationships and connectedness, Dr Deagon gained an in-depth appreciation for the discipline, and now embeds art, science, and the Home Economics philosophy into all of her units.

“CQUni offers a Home Economics specialisation within the Bachelor of Education (Secondary) course, and as part of this, I encourage my pre-service teachers to apply innovative teaching techniques which enable students to identify food, textile or health and wellbeing-based problems and investigate authentic solutions,” Dr Deagon said.

“Whether students are connecting with their local community, developing a new food product with healthy heart benefits, or learning the basics of wearable technology by sewing and programming LED lights into a textile product, they are all required to exercise their problem-solving, design and creativity skills.

“This sort of critical thinking goes to show how the profession has changed over time. It has and will continue to adapt to social, technological, environmental and generational needs, highlighting its progression from a marginalised discipline to a vibrant and vital field, in the 21st century.

“Tens of thousands of Home Economists are now working globally in schools, universities, industries and many levels of government, who genuinely want to help others, particularly adolescents, live full, healthy and happy lives.

“I hope this movement continues to the point where Home Economics is recognised for the life-affirming discipline that it is.

“Obviously I am passionate about this field. Home Economics has provided me with a journey I could never have dreamed, and I look forward to continuing my research and to contribute to the policies that impact the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities in Australia and internationally.”

Dr Deagon will soon head to the International Federation for Home Economics World Congress in America.