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Alumna Overcomes Obstacles to Earn Doctorate 50 Years after Graduating from ASU

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Author: Lois G. Russell

Release Date: May 16, 2017

For alumna Patrycya Lowery Tucker, a member of the Class of 1967 and 2017, Saturday’s Commencement Convocation was a celebration of triumph in the face of adversity.

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Patrycya Lowery Tucker has a long and loving history with Alabama State University.

"ASU is a part of my family legacy. This is my home."

Tucker began her academic career in the first grade at what was then called the “laboratory school” at Alabama State Teachers College. After graduating from high school, she then enrolled in the college, completing a double major in English and sociology in 1967.

patrycya tucker hoodingNow, 50 years later, Tucker returned to her beloved alma mater to receive two recognitions during the 295th Spring Commencement Convocation: her Golden diploma and her doctorate in Educational Leadership, Policy and Law.

That’s a first for any ASU graduate.

“I don’t see anything extraordinary about it because my parents taught me to have goals and reach for them,” said Tucker. “My school taught me from first grade through doctorate to have goals and reach for them. My church and my neighborhood taught me that. So, I don’t think I’ve done anything extraordinary. I truly don’t.”

Her humility about her accomplishments is made even more admirable by the fact that her road to academic success has been paved with seemingly insurmountable challenges, beginning when she was a child. Doctors told her mother (Annie Williams Lowery) and her father (Winston Churchill Lowery), both of whom attended ASU, that she would never be able to talk. Tucker said her parents refused to accept the doctor’s diagnosis and placed her in the laboratory school.

“As caring, loving parents, they wanted to make sure that their child was exposed to the best. They recognized as parents, even back in that day, that they wanted to give their baby learning experiences that would help her develop and to them, ASU was the answer. So, after I got to first grade with my peers, I started talking. And as my mother told it, once I started, I never stopped,” Tucker added with a laugh.

Later in life, Tucker faced the challenges of living, teaching and raising a family in a segregated South. She and her husband, Carrell Nathaniel Tucker, both had successful careers—she as an educator and administrator, and her husband within the two-year college system.

The couple had two children, Winston Carrell, an attorney in New York City, and Nikki Tucker Thomas, the Executive Director of the Birmingham Bar Foundation. Tucker said after her children completed college and started their careers, her husband encouraged her to pursue her lifelong dream of earning her doctorate.

Only one semester after enrolling in the ELPL program, Tucker faced one of her toughest challenges: the death of her beloved husband due to complications from pneumonia. Tucker persevered after his death, only to lose her mother and then her son-in-law in the fall of 2016. Tucker said the support she received from her professors and classmates helped her to make it through to graduation.

“During each of those very trying times, this faculty and the cohort that I was in, embraced my family,” said Tucker. “There were so many times that I said, ‘Is this really supposed to happen for me?’ ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to get this doctorate.’ Yes, it was challenging. The academic instruction was what it should have been; it challenged us. It was not an easy thing to do; but my cohort members, my professors said…’we’re going to help you do this.’ That’s the kind of environment that ASU has. And that’s been throughout my academic career.”

Tucker said ASU has always been a support for her. She lists professors like John Garrick Hardy, Doris Sanders and Dr. Ralph Bryson among those who helped to encourage her even after graduation.

“Those professors that I had at ASU would call me periodically and say, ‘Pat, I just called to check on you to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to the correct way and to make sure that you’re not only representing yourself, but you’re also representing ASU,” said Tucker. “That’s the kind of learning environment I came up in.”

Tucker, who serves as a member of the Elmore County Board of Education, retired from an administrative position with Troy University but says she still has a full-time job that she loves.”

“I’m still working as a full-time grandmother (to eight-year-old, Nicholas Correll and six-year-old twins, Lindsay and Tristyn),” said Tucker. “My best pay is to see my grandbabies every day.”

As Tucker sat in the John Garrick Hardy Student Center, sharing memories and hugs with other members of the Golden Class of 1967, she expressed her excitement about the transformations that ASU has experienced since her college days 50 years ago.

“It’s so different. When I came to this building last night for the first time…I thought, it’s just like the Taj Mahal compared to what we had. And I saw those new pretty buses; oh my goodness! I’m very proud.”

About Dr. Patrycya Lowery Tucker

Tucker has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and Sociology and Master of Education degree in English and Educational Counseling from Alabama State University. 

She was an educator with over 40 years of experience in the elementary, secondary, and university levels.  She is retired from Troy University Montgomery.

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