I had been very turned on by watching this organization [Planned Parenthood] and helping this organization grow and fulfill many strong roles in the community. When I stopped running that center in East Baltimore, I then went back as a volunteer because by then I got off the staff and was briefly a volunteer and served as chair of their board. Later on when we were looking for a new director I was under a lot of pressure to take that and become the director of what was in the end, probably the largest single site provider of family planning in the world. So it was very tempting to take the job, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I hated administration and how I loved academia and really thought it was time to change my role...
[My Ph.D. thesis] really cast the die for the direction I went after that because two of the professors in the department [at Johns Hopkins University] in the seventies had broken brand new ground. In 1971, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), they had collected the first data on adolescent women in the United States and their sexual activity. They were so struck by what they found, they sought funding again from the NIH in 1976 to repeat the survey, and in 1979 again. There were such radical changes in that period that they directed a lot of attention at a field that most people hadn't understood before.
I was able to use their 1976 data for a thesis and I found out in the course of the work that 50% of all of the pregnancies the teenagers experienced were experienced within the first six months of their sexual activity - very early on. 20% of all those pregnancies occurred within the very first month they had sex. So what happened was that I realized that we had to reach them very, very quickly. You couldn't wait for them to get around to getting to a clinic and that started a large piece of my life looking for ways to reach them before and early on in their sexual exposure.