‘If I can do it, why not you?’ – 83-year-old on becoming Howard’s oldest doctoral graduate

Dollita Okine May 15, 2024
Notwithstanding her initial doubts about her skills and financial situation, Fowler found strength in her parents' experiences and her father's advice. Photo Credit: 7NEWS

Marie Fowler is convinced that God called her to spend the last three years learning and growing at Howard University’s (HU) School of Divinity. The 83-year-old is now the oldest student to earn a doctorate from Howard University. 

Her educational background included a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from Maple Springs Baptist Bible College and Seminary, before her recent accomplishment.

Fowler told 7News that she consulted with God before returning to school. She said, “It was never my thought that I would go beyond maybe one semester because, after all, I had been out of school since 1959. I didn’t even know if I could retain information.”

Notwithstanding her initial doubts about her skills and financial situation, Fowler found strength in her parents’ experiences and her father’s advice.

“My mom and dad were born in an era when it was illegal for them to learn to read and write. We taught my dad how to read and write and how to sign his name so he wouldn’t have to put that X,” she recounted. 

The 83-year-old always remembered her father’s motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and she lived up to it during her time at school, including Howard.

Dr. Alice Ogden Bellis, Professor of the Hebrew Bible, praised Fowler’s commitment to excellence in her education, elaborating, “She was the life of the party. She knew what she wanted and she came here and she did that.”

The trailblazer is now ready to teach and share her experience and message.

She urged others to pursue their ambitions. “I want to say is that it is never too late. I want everyone to realize that I am 83, which means if I can do it, why not you?”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 15, 2024

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