Roberta Fowler always knew she wanted to go to college to find an interesting and well-paying job. She was born and raised in Indiana, having lived on a farm in New Palestine for most of her life. “I wanted a good job so I could get off the farm,” Roberta said.
Roberta began her educational journey as a math major at Taylor University with plans to be a college professor. During her sophomore year, computer science was emerging and Roberta was interested in what the field had to offer. She transferred to Purdue University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science, graduating in 1973.
Roberta’s first job with her computer science degree was at Eli Lilly, but she wasn’t done with furthering her education. She started taking night classes at IUPUI working towards a master’s degree in Computer and Information Science. The urban campus, small class size, and proximity to her home and job all drew her to IUPUI. After earning her master’s degree from the School of Science, she returned in 2001 to pursue an online certificate from the School of Engineering and Technology.
“Education is one of those things that can never be taken away from you,” Roberta said. “Once you get a degree or take some classes, nobody can take that away from you. I always enjoyed computer science after I got into it. I was able to find a good job, and I was always glad I did it.”
Roberta’s career in the computer science field has spanned multiple industries, including banks and insurance companies. She also worked at globally known corporations including Eli Lilly, IBM and Raytheon. Roberta particularly enjoyed her roles as the lead analyst on an auto-leasing software package and as an adult education teacher, helping her colleagues learn how to use a new database and multiple programming languages.
Since her retirement, Roberta has focused on her vegetable and flower garden, served as treasurer and member of the New Palestine United Methodist Women group, served as a member of the School of Science Alumni Board, and volunteered at IUPUI with the Global Jags Connect program. Through this program, she is matched with an international student, and they meet several times a semester for activities and outings to learn more about American culture and customs.
IUPUI has undergone many changes since Roberta was a student. The campus is much larger with a wider variety of majors and extracurricular activities. With its large urban campus, there are many opportunities both on and off-campus for students and alumni.
Roberta hopes more alumni will get involved and give back to the school that invested in them. “If alumni and others want to be involved on campus, I would encourage them to be proactive and reach out to the school or department to learn more,” she said.
By: Sarah Shroyer