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Marie Fowler, at 83, Makes History as Howard University’s Oldest Doctoral Graduate

Marie Fowler, at 83, Makes History as Howard University’s Oldest Doctoral Graduate

In a remarkable achievement, 83-year-old Marie Fowler has etched her name in the annals of Howard University’s history as its oldest doctoral graduate.

Fowler’s journey to this extraordinary milestone unfolded over three years of unwavering commitment to coursework at Howard University’s School of Divinity, marking a return to academia after a hiatus since 1959.

According to WJLA, Fowler’s pursuit of her doctoral degree transcended mere educational aspirations; it was a divine calling that beckoned her back to the scholarly realm following the completion of her bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from the Maple Springs Baptist Bible College and Seminary.

“It was never my thought that I would go beyond maybe one semester… I didn’t even know if I could retain information,” confessed Fowler, expressing concerns about financial resources at this stage of her life.

Marie Fowler becomes Howard University’s oldest doctoral graduate

However, it was the resilience of her parents that fueled her determination to persevere in her academic odyssey. “My mom and dad were born in an era when it was illegal for them to learn to read and write,” she shared. “We taught my dad how to read and write and how to sign his name so he wouldn’t have to put that X.”

Howard University’s School of Divinity, according to university sources, endeavours to fuse spiritual and religious teachings with immersive scholarly experiences.

“Like the rest of Howard University, [the School of Divinity] is committed to developing scholars and professionals who lead change, help to solve the world’s problems, and embody truth and service in all that they do,” remarked Dean Yolanda Pierce, Ph.D., in 2023.

In the wake of the pandemic, the School of Divinity has witnessed a shifting landscape in students’ aspirations, with many gravitating towards endeavours in social justice, policy roles, or nonprofit ventures, signalling a broader horizon of outreach and advocacy.

Fowler’s attainment of a doctoral degree from the divinity school not only amplifies her capacity to impart knowledge but also serves as a testament to the enduring adage that “it is never too late” to pursue one’s aspirations. At 83, she stands as a beacon of inspiration for individuals of all ages striving to chase their dreams.


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