Graduation Spans Generations
Father, daughter 'dynamic duo' to take stage together at May 10 commencement
May 6, 2008
Between classes, students banter about projects, movies and weekend plans, but Eddy "Buz" Sawyers, who will graduate with his daughter Taylor on May 10, enjoyed hearing something many fathers only hear during August move-in and on holidays.
Their graduation party invitations say they're a "Dynamic Duo," and even though their busy schedules turned notes on the refrigerator into a key form of communication, a seemingly hereditary interest in education ensured the Sawyers weren't studious ships passing in the night during their time at UTD.
Buz completed his bachelor's in literary studies at UTD in 1993. In 2005, he returned to work on a master's in aesthetic studies, focusing on creative writing. He continued teaching eighth grade English in Garland, taking only one class each semester, but took on an extra course in fall 2007 so he could graduate with his daughter.
Taylor majored in interdisciplinary studies and earned a teacher's certification after transferring from Richland College in 2006 with an associate's degree.
She finished her student teaching assignment in Rockwall this April, and said she's in the process of finding a job in the area. Taylor said she'll start graduate school at Texas Women's University (TWU) in June, where she'll study counseling.
"I've wanted to be a teacher since I was 3 - I taught school in my room ... I knew I wanted to go somewhere close to home. I've always heard great things about UTD and the teacher's program. I've really enjoyed it," said Taylor, now 23 years old.
"She used to line up her dolls and have classes," said Buz, who taught Taylor in his seventh grade honors class.
Taylor said she wishes she could continue at UTD, but the counseling program that will move her towards her next goals: counseling in schools and eventually opening a private practice, is not offered.
Students of all ages attend UTD, but most people still expect to see variations on the collegiate family unit: friends, boyfriends and girlfriends.
In fall 2007, Buz and Taylor both had evening courses in Classroom Building West. They met each week in The Pub for hamburgers and cheese fries before walking to class.
"I think some people thought we were a couple," Taylor said.
"A few students asked who the 'hot blonde chick' was. Sometimes I'd tell them, and sometimes I'd just smile," Buz said.
Taylor said the days she met her father reflected her ambitious schedule during her last three semesters. She took 18 hours of courses, even during the summer. That meant she was sometimes in class from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a few hours off when she'd eat and study.
Buz and Taylor said class and work left them little time to be involved in student life, but agreed that it was what they expected when they enrolled at UTD.
"I have friends who are getting jobs in teaching just because they attend UTD," Taylor said.
"UTD has always had always had an exemplary reputation," Buz said. "There has always been a sense that if you could get though UTD you could get through anything."
Buz said he was impressed, albeit from a distance, with the growth of UTD's campus and student life.
"When I was here, the only café we had was where the lounge is now. The Pub and most of the Student Union wasn't here, just a few pool and ping pong tables. Dean Kratz was professor Kratz. When it became a four-year school - that's when it really took off... It's really an international school now," he said.
Buz was initially told there was no flexibility in the graduation order, but he said it didn't take much to persuade the Registrar's office to let him walk with Taylor at commencement.
"I'll graduate with the undergraduates instead of with grad students, but I don't care," Buz said.
Taylor said her parents are "pretty much her best friends" and her supportive family helped generate her interest in counseling.
"I have a great family and great support. Unfortunately a lot of people don't," she said.
Buz has written three books and said he is currently working on a murder-mystery.
His first book, "No Point in Dying Now," is historical fiction set in the Civil War and has become part of the middle school and high school English and history curriculum for students in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Buz's second book is "A Debt Unpaid," a sequel to the first. "Decades in Anadar" is a collection of short stories about growing up in the small West Texas town of Idalou.
"Masters studies really helped me fine tune my writing skills, and I've learned a lot. All the classes were helpful, but the writing classes were specifically useful and I'm glad I took them, he said.
Taylor said she plans to pursue a doctorate in counseling. Buz said he's glad he came back, but laughed at the prospect of a third act in his education.
"I'm done. I'm too old to do this," he said.
Buz Sawyers' website is bsawyers.com.