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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Sociologist teaching students to give back

Lori Fowler, NE associate professor of sociology, balances her full-time job with school as she works on her doctoral dissertation.  Photo by Patrick Cusack/The Collegian
Lori Fowler, NE associate professor of sociology, balances her full-time job with school as she works on her doctoral dissertation. Photo by Patrick Cusack/The Collegian

By Amanda Alcover-Migura/reporter

Lori Fowler, NE associate professor of sociology, balances her full-time job with school as she works on her doctoral dissertation.  Photo by Patrick Cusack/The Collegian
Lori Fowler, NE associate professor of sociology, balances her full-time job with school as she works on her doctoral dissertation. Photo by Patrick Cusack/The Collegian

Lori Fowler knows what struggles her students face daily because she faces them too.

This 10-year NE Campus teacher says she knows what it is like to be a student, and she knows what sacrifices have to be made. Fowler has been a college student herself since 1989 and will finish her doctorate at the University of North Texas in December.

Her degree is in sociology: race, class and gender with an emphasis in health and aging. The focus of her dissertation is breast implants as graduation gifts, the No. 1 gift for high school girls in Texas.

“ If young girls knew they’d have to face surgery every 10 years for the rest of their lives, they may think twice about the surgery,” she said.

Along with studying the girls who get implants so young, she is also looking at their mothers to find a psychological connection. She thinks the desire for such surgery may come from guilt, trying to compensate for past neglect, or maybe from the mothers wanting to make their daughters into what they wish they could be.

When finished, she hopes to have Implants for Graduation? Parent and Adolescent Narratives published in as many sociological journals as possible and plans to write a non-fiction book on the subject.

Along with being a full-time student, Fowler is also a full-time mother and associate professor of sociology. She said she knows how hard it can be to juggle all of these obligations along with school and, therefore, understands students and tries to give them a well-needed break sometimes.

“ Just to get to class and sit there, they have to make a sacrifice,” she said. “I do think, as a student, I know the challenges they face. I can relate.”

After earning her doctorate, Fowler plans to stay at TCC.

“ I think I have more to learn from my students than they can possibly teach me,” she said. “That’s part of growing.”

Fowler said she focuses heavily on community service in her classes, taking service-learning trips to the Bedford Jail, the Battered Women’s Shelter, the Alliance for Children and other community facilities. In April, she and her students hosted a Child Abuse Awareness Fair, which Fowler treated like an Apprentice project giving groups of students different jobs. The fair raised $1,000 in two days, an effort Fowler was pleased with.

Weekends, however, find this mother of four at volleyball tournaments or hanging out with her family on their Aledo ranch. She takes a “truthful” approach with her children, ranging in age from 10 to 20.

“ Growing up I came from a strict family; I was sheltered,” she said. “Then I found out the world was not as nice and perfect and carefree as I thought.”

As a mother, Fowler said she feels obligated to be truthful and show her children reality.

“ The world can be challenging, and the more you know, the more you are prepared,” she said. “I want them to know they can make choices and say no. They have rights and they control their future.”

Although she teaches sociology, Fowler said her main goal is to encourage students to finish college and major in whatever makes them happy. The most important thing is to finish and get the degree, no matter what it may be in.

On top of the rest of her busy life, Fowler has written articles for sociology textbooks and online sites. She volunteers for several organizations and has received awards and recognitions, including NE Campus Best Lecturer in 2005. She is also the Advisor for Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

The aspect of teaching that makes her most proud each semester is watching her students give back to their community.

“ It never fails. Every semester, every time I give students the opportunity to help the community, they blow my mind,” she said. “I get to sit back and watch them give back and work hard, and that is the greatest reward.”

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