Earning a doctorate was never something I thought I would obtain. It just wasn’t. I have lived many lives and my journey has been less than traditional. Coming from Canada, my first love and career was ice hockey. From there I worked in many different blue collar industries including the trades as a mason and even a fire fighter prior to starting my journey as an educator and academic. No fault of my parents, they saw education as a means to obtain a particular job and position. However, my view of education and learning has morphed into something very special. It has grown into something so profound whereby my soul expands and I find a sense of fulfillment.
As I heard my name being called on the big day, I knew it was my turn to walk across the stage and kneel before the chancellor and be hooded. In that moment, I nearly broke down, fearing that it would turn into an uncontrollable sobbing scenario where I would cry from head to toe. I don't know how I didn’t lose it. I looked to my wife prior to walking to the center of the stage and in that moment, I felt guilty as if she should be next to me. Without her love, support, encouragement, care for our three kids, and always standing behind me, I would not be here.
To be honest, when I met my wife over ten years ago, she inspired me to be better, to do better and to challenge myself to accomplish the unthinkable. I have been fortunate to travel the world, and move through the varying ranks of education because I have been blessed to have with a partner who not only believes in me, but who is there to support, and pick up the slack in other areas so I can achieve my goals. I am grateful for my wife. For her endless love and willingness to take a backseat to my dreams. However, now it’s my turn to work from behind the stage and take a backseat to her dreams personally and professionally.
This note is to recognize that I would not be where I am in life if it wasn’t for the incredible partner that I call my wife, and to further shift gears championing her dreams. Behind every academic, leader etc., there is someone who is willing to sacrifice their own desires for you to succeed. I hope others recognize this and are willing to return the favor.
Thank you, Aileen, for believing in me and not letting me give up, especially during times that challenged and threatened our relationship. And know that my greatest accomplishment is the love and growth we share.
Dr. Spencer Fowler