“Sweet 16” has a new meaning for Douglas Edward Hoover.
That’s the number of years it took him to get his AU Bachelor of Arts Degree.
“I would say I’m 39, but since that joke is as old as the Jack Benny Program, I will fess up and say I turned 62 on May 2!” jokes Hoover.
“It was well worth the time,” he adds, noting that in those years he got to watch his daughter Elsie go from five to 21 years old — becoming a student in her own right.
“The convocation itself felt like a celebration to us, since we have been waiting for it ever since Elsie was four-years-old,” says Hoover.
Through his degree quest, Hoover, a part-time graphic artist, juggled raising his family alongside various work roles.
He was employed by the Edmonton Sun for 24 years and has also held jobs with The Edmonton Examiner, PageMaster Publication Services Inc., Edmonton Woman Magazine, Edmonton Senior and The Shepherd’s Guide. He now works for Pattison Outdoor Advertising, as a warehouse shipper and receiver, while still attending to his freelance graphic artistry.
Hoover says he enjoyed his time at AU immensely.
“AU was very helpful. The tutors were good. I got a lot of inspiration from both them and the courses,” he says.
His fondest memory of AU involved his very first course: astronomy. He says he enjoyed learning about the universe. In fact, he and his wife, Azucena, actually turned it into a family affair.
The couple (who met in New Zealand in 1991), would often look out at the night sky and “enjoy the stars” from the perspective of being able to apply to them what he learned in his course.
“That was one of the first things I remember about my dad’s [schooling],” remarks Elsie, recalling the fun memories when, as a child, she and her parents would frequent Edmonton’s Telus World of Science.
“AU was very helpful. The tutors were good — I got a lot of inspiration from both them and the courses,” ~ Douglas Edward Hoover, B.A. Athabasca University, 2016
Elsie also remembers her dad’s discipline when it came to his course work.
“We learned quite a lot as a family. Mostly that when it’s study time, it’s study time!” she says.
“Dad chose to take subjects that he really liked — they seemed really random — but it was nice for him.”
Elsie’s an accomplished freelance musician with a flare for the piano and organ. She attends The King’s University in Edmonton. She recalls the Hoover house was filled with her dad’s textbooks and that she actually enjoyed reading some of them; it was a way for her to live vicariously through his AU adventure.
And when school days turned stressful — which any student or alum will tell you is par for the course — Hoover’s wife Azucena stepped up.
“I just tried to keep his spirits up,” she says, pointing to the lengthy duration her mature-student husband endured trying to complete his degree — even noting there were times when her husband was unsure he’d make it over the finish line.
“I would say, ‘No, you finish it off — because it’s worthwhile. Even just for the personal satisfaction of knowing that you’re getting something [great] out of all the efforts you’ve put in over all those years.'”
“The convocation itself felt like a celebration to us, since we have been waiting for it ever since Elsie was 4 years old.” ~ Douglas Edward Hoover
Hoover says his wife’s supportive push helped tremendously — as did the support from his family back in Seaforth, Ontario, where he grew up.
“My mother, Merle, supported me in my education but unfortunately she couldn’t come to graduation today — she passed away last year,” says Hoover.
“But it was something she wanted me to complete, so I completed it.”
This past week, as Hoover walked across the Field House stage in the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, donned in his graduation garb, to receive his degree, we’re more than a little sure his mother would be very proud.