Getting to know...Cynthia Fowler
As the daughter of a life-long political organizer, Cynthia Fowler was in the position to witness an amazing era in South Carolina's history. Her father, Donald Lional Fowler (Wofford '57) took her to several political functions – in places like Darlington Raceway and Galivants Ferry -- and introduced her to some amazing people.
One of the most memorable is the Reverend I. DeQuincy Newman, a leader in South Carolina's civil rights struggles who, in 1983, became the first African-American state senator since 1886. I.D., as he was known, baptized Fowler at Washington Street United Methodist Church, the oldest church in Columbia. She will always remember how honored she felt when her father told her "give I.D. a kiss" every time he came to one of her parent's frequent political parties.
Fowler now lives in the house her grandfather built in the 1940s at Lake Lanier in Landrum, S.C. Last November, she was elected to represent her community as a Commissioner for the Foothills Fire Service Area. Fire is an area of expertise for her, as she has spent her past two summers in Indonesia researching the fires that subsistence farmers use to manage their landscapes. The farmers on Sumba don’t have bushhogs or lawn mowers, so they use fire to keep their gardens clean and for a variety of other purposes.
In 2003, Fowler was a research ecologist at the United States Forest Service in Athens, Ga, but she really wanted to live in the Upstate. She was familiar with Wofford College because of her parents, plus she attended a summer computer workshop for middle schoolers, and “may have come to a football game or two” growing up.
“My mother, who was from Hendersonville, was in nurse’s training at Spartanburg Regional in the mid-1950s,” says Fowler. “Women were not allowed to graduate from Wofford back then, but she was allowed to take biology here."
That is how her mother, Septima Twyford Briggs, met her father.
Her mom’s penchant for helping others is certainly a trait inherited by Fowler, who is an active volunteer worker. But Fowler's main passion is anthropology, which she gets to practice as a sociology professor at Wofford.
Fowler's just as busy off campus as she is on it through her roles as a book review editor, an athlete, and an elected official. Fowler is the manager of Team Bi-Lo, the only all-female cycling team in the Upstate. Team Bi-Lo won the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness Award in the Community division for 2008, in addition to lots of races. Fowler also swims, runs, paddles, and does yoga. In 2008 she ranked first in the Southeast for her agegroup in the XTerra Off-Road Triathlon Series.
Fowler has her hands full, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.