Felicia Dawn Stoler & Felicia D. Stoler
FINALIST: From crumbling home, divorce, mommy, doctorate, to TV Personality


I changed careers to become a nutritionist and exercise physiologist, so I could have a career with flexibility to be a wife and mother - life doesn't always turn out the way you plan….

I never thought the man I married, with his blue chip MBA would not be able to keep a job and run us into debt. After September 11th, with two young children, my life began to spiral as if picked up by a tornado… I was thrown into challenges that were just unfair. My career was one that I never thought would have to support a family… on top of which, we had to sue our home builder for selling us a lemon (with 26 construction defects). I was a hard worker, but this really was a challenge – especially since I also started my doctoral studies!

Nobody gets married and has kids thinking they are going to get divorced… however, I was lucky to have an energy and drive that permitted me to be the super mom I only read about: putting in full days at consulting jobs and my private practice while being a doting mother, dealing with a child who had developmental delays due to premature birth, starting graduate school, spearheading a litigation and dealing with a husband with clinical depression. It was my survival mechanism that kept me going when I should've had no energy left!

Background with focus on "aha" moment

I had so much respect among my peers and found that I was getting more and more work – almost as if, the success I saw in my career was inversely proportionate to my personal life. I got elected to be the President of the state dietetic association and started therapy to help me manage the anxiety I was having over the destruction of my personal dreams. My father told me he never wanted me to make my living "on my back" – to never be dependent on a man for my survival… but had I known that I would have to carry the responsibilities of the "man" in my household – I would've become a lawyer!

What I came to realize is that maybe, I would've never recognized my career potential if I was the happy housewife and mother who did a little "private practice" on the side. I was good at what I did… and within the first five years in my new career, I was among the top 5% of earners in my field!

Professional challenge

So, while being an uber mom and amazing nutritionist and exercise physiologist… I was also enrolled in a doctoral program at a university near my home. Much to my dismay, my mentor left and moved halfway across the US… what was I going to do? There was nobody else in the department that had my area of interest. I did not want to be one of those people who doesn't complete a project… I had to find another program to transfer into. I had some professional issues with other consultants that I was working with – where I learned that I was grateful that my best friend's a lawyer and she was able to help me with most of my legal needs. I'm in a service business… so when I perform my service, I expect to be compensated and NOT have to chase after my fees. I always operated with the utmost of professionalism, but yet managed to always feel like I was getting screwed by others. Why me?


After getting my business under control, I had to make a decision about my marriage. If I called it quits, then I felt like a failure. Plain and simple. But I wanted it to work, but after 18 months of couples counseling – I realized that my husband really didn't love ME – he loved the idea of me. He was selfish and lazy. I got married because at the time, it was the only thing I could do with my life that would be considered an "accomplishment" in my parents' eyes. My 7 year old daughter asked me if we were getting divorced. When I asked her why, she said, "because you and daddy fight all the time." Then I got a fortune in a biscotti cookie (which is laminated and I still carry it in my wallet) – which reads "it is better to be happily single than unhappily married." So, I finally had a night alone with my husband and told him that "I could no longer be an actress in my own life for everyone else's benefit." I just wanted out… but we couldn't sell our house and we had no cash – our only asset was our home and it was tied up in litigation. I was now a graduate assistant doing research and how was I going to stay afloat, especially when I had my residency to complete? I remember sitting in the mediator's office and my husband said… I know you are going to have a job on TV… for once, he was going to be right.