Fowler travels the world while earning a degree in psychology

Fowler will graduate with his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from UAB in the fall 2023 commencement ceremony Friday, Dec 8.
Written by: Chris McCauley
Media contact: Brianna Hoge

Stream FowlerFowler will graduate with his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from UAB in the fall 2023 commencement ceremony Friday, Dec 8. Tyler Fowler’s commute to work is a bit longer than most. He and his partner live in Fairhope, Alabama, but as a flight attendant for an airline, he has to travel to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to jump-start his workday.

“Being a flight attendant really is a lifestyle. I’m on the road 15-18 days a month,” said Fowler, a senior in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences.

For Fowler, his globe-spanning career is a joy; but it was not always his plan. In fact, while in high school, he had a much different — and very specific — vision for his future.

Fowler grew up in Dothan, Alabama, with a dream of one day becoming an engineer for Disney. So, after graduating from high school in 2015, he took a job in frontline operations at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and enrolled in an engineering program at a local university. Within two years, he was yearning for a more affordable college option — and a different degree — so he decided to come back to Alabama, officially transferring to UAB in 2017.

“I realized after a semester of engineering that it wasn’t the right fit for me,” Fowler said. “After living in Orlando and living in a more socially progressive place … and knowing UAB had a downtown campus — that was a huge driver for me. The location drove me to UAB.”

During his early days at UAB, Fowler pursued multiple majors, including political science and public administration, then public health, then marketing. He also explored a new job opportunity that allowed him to accomplish two goals: travel the world and pay his tuition.

Interested in pursuing an online degree at UAB? Learn more at UAB Online.

“During my first semester at UAB, I applied for a job with an airline as a flight attendant,” Fowler said. “During my time at the Walt Disney Company, I witnessed many of my colleagues going on to pursue careers in aviation, which inspired me to do the same going forward. I had an itch to travel, and it’s a good-paying job. It was a ‘whim’ thing.”

According to Fowler, the field can be very competitive. Thankfully, he was invited to interview and, later, was offered the job. It was a pleasant surprise that continues to have a profound impact on his life.

Since taking the job six years ago, he has traveled the world, visiting places like Korea, Italy and almost every island in the Caribbean, all while continuing his studies at UAB. The job also prompted him to have a life-changing conversation with a fellow flight attendant who was getting her Ph.D. in psychology.

“She asked if I ever considered a career in psychology. She said that I was very easy to talk to and thought that I’d make a great counselor and encouraged me to look into my school’s program,” Fowler said.

1206044462439389.besvpWAeAdqSf9BNFUqN height640And that is just what he did. Through conversations with his adviser, Fowler learned that UAB offered an online Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, which also suited his career. He made the switch and has not looked back.

“I am so much more invested in my studies,” Fowler said. “The content is so interesting. The faculty is wonderful. Everyone has been so overwhelmingly positive and thoughtful — especially for me and my unique work situation. The way that the instructors at UAB have set up their coursework, I feel equally engaged with my peers, and I very much feel like I’m in a classroom. It’s just as rewarding as being on campus.”

For Bridge Kennedy, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the online undergraduate program in the Department of Psychology, Fowler has been a standout student.

“Not only is Tyler a good student, he has a very reassuring nature that comes through clearly in his communication style,” Kennedy said. “This was evident in my course’s discussion board assignments, as well as in our personal correspondence. Even if he reached out with a concern, he somehow made me feel supported. The field of psychology is a good fit for Tyler, and I am pleased that he chose our program.”

Although it can require some creative planning and preparation, Fowler has been able to successfully navigate his coursework even in the midst of time zone changes and busy days at work. 

“I travel between time zones constantly — I try to give my professors at the beginning of the semester a heads-up, ‘Hey, just letting you know, sometimes my flight delays and I miss my online exam reservation,’” Fowler said. “Every single faculty member has been so supportive. It’s been very flexible.”

Now Fowler has successfully found his way to the program’s finish line and is preparing to graduate in the fall 2023 commencement Dec. 8. His options for the future are wide-spanning, ranging from deepening his career with his current employer to pursuing a law degree. Regardless of his next steps, Fowler will look back on his time in the online psychology program fondly.

“I absolutely have loved every second of the program,” Fowler said.