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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

83-Year-Old Black Woman Becomes Oldest Person to Earn a Doctorate at Howard University

Marie Fowler

Nationwide — At 83 years old, Marie Fowler has made history at Howard University, an HBCU in Washington, DC, by becoming its oldest person ever to earn a doctorate.

Fowler spent the past 3 years at the Howard University School of Divinity, feeling it was a calling from God. Before this, she had already earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from Maple Springs Baptist Bible College and Seminary.

Fowler admitted deciding to return to school wasn’t easy for her. But she said she sought guidance through prayer.

“It was never my thought that I would go beyond maybe one semester because, after all, I had been out of school since 1959,” Fowler told WJLA. “I didn’t even know if I could retain information.”

Despite initial doubts about her skills and finances, her parents’ experiences and her father’s encouraging words inspired her to push forward.

“My mom and dad were born in an era when it was illegal for them to learn to read and write,” Fowler recounted. Her father often said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” which resonated with her.

During her time at Howard University, Fowler’s vibrant spirit and determination left a lasting impression. Dr. Alice Ogden Bellis, Professor of Hebrew Bible, described her as “the life of the party.” She added, “She knew what she wanted and she came here and she did that.”

Now, with her doctoral degree in divinity, Fowler is ready to teach and inspire others.

“I want to say is that it is never too late,” she said. “I want everyone to realize that I am 83, which means if I can do it, why not you?”