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83-Year-Old Black Woman Breaks Records as Oldest Graduate at US University

An 83 year old woman, Maria Fowler makes history as the oldest graduate at Howard University, earning a Doctoral Degree in Divinity.

Marie Fowler, aged 83, has made history as the oldest graduate at Howard University, earning a Doctoral degree in divinity and inspiring many with her remarkable journey.

Completing her PhD in Divinity at Howard University School of Divinity, Marie described her academic pursuit as a divine calling. Despite initial doubts about her ability to retain information after decades away from formal education, she persisted, fueled by her deep sense of purpose.

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Having previously earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Maple Springs Baptist Bible College and Seminary, Marie spent three years at Howard University dedicated to achieving her PhD, surpassing even her own expectations.

Reflecting on her journey, Marie credited her late parents, whose experiences of facing educational barriers due to racial discrimination fueled her determination. She emphasized the significance of their struggle, recalling how they overcame legal barriers to literacy, instilling in her a profound appreciation for education as a means of empowerment.

Marie’s message to others is one of resilience and hope: “It is never too late.” At 83, she proves that age is no barrier to pursuing one’s dreams, urging others to embrace their potential and pursue their aspirations.

Throughout her time at Howard University, Marie’s vibrant spirit and unwavering determination endeared her to the community. Dr. Alice Ogden Bellis, Professor of the Hebrew Bible, described her as “the life of the party,” highlighting Marie’s clarity of purpose and tenacity in achieving her goals.

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

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


“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 said.

Marie said she exceeded her own expectations by earning her doctoral degree in three years. “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,” she said.

READ ALSO: LASU Best Graduating Students Inspirational Stories (2017/2018 Set)

SOURCES: ALLSCHOOL, SCHOLARSHIP REGION

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