Howie MacDonald – Cape Breton Musician trades Fiddle for Diploma

Howie MacDonald is a familiar name in Cape Breton, and beyond. He has contributed much of his time to being a full time celtic musician and entertainer. In recent years, he decided to return to school to continue his education. On November 4, Howie will graduate from the Bachelor of Arts program at Cape Breton University, with a major in Psychology.

Psychology is a subject that has always been among Howie’s interests. “I decided to study psych because I’ve always been fascinated with human behaviour,” says Howie. “What I enjoyed most about the psychology program at CBU was learning that psychology is not something you just learn and apply to life, but it is constantly evolving. The roles of women, minorities, race and certain life paradigms are invigorated and sometimes resuscitated not by ‘those’ that make the rules, but it is artists, writers, poets and everyday people who are the real inspiration for change.”

CBU has had a place in Howie’s life for years. “I decided to come to CBU over other universities for practical and nostalgically motivated reasons. It was close to home and many of my friends and family have attended there over the years,” says Howie. “CBU is also constantly growing to accommodate more of what students of all walks of life are aspiring to.”

Howie has learned a couple of very valuable life teachings during his time at CBU. “Some life lessons I’ve learned are that deep down, we’re all the same and that it isn’t our circumstances that reveal us, we are revealed by our circumstances,” Howie says.

Howie reflects on the fond memories he’s created at CBU. “Some valuable memories that I’ll carry forward are, first of all, driving my kids to CBU during their years there, watching them graduate, attending CBU with my youngest daughter for her last year and my first, and finally, watching them graduate and graduating myself,” Howie says.

Having been a mature student, Howie is familiar with some of the uncertainty involved in going back to school. He has advice for those thinking about taking the leap. “Don’t worry about ‘fitting in’. There are students here younger and older than most. Don’t worry about finding your way around, just ask,” says Howie. “Don’t worry about whether you’re smart enough or not, there’s plenty of help available through your professors, classmates and the writing centre. Tell them I sent you, they know me well. Also, don’t worry about things you can’t control or can control, because if you can control them, why worry?”

After graduation, Howie plans to continue with a Master of Social Work and eventually work in a field that will make a worthy contribution to society. There are some aspects of being a CBU student that Howie will treasure for years to come. “What I enjoyed most about being a CBU student was enjoying the everyday routine which is so foreign to a person who has been in the music industry for many years,” says Howie. “Also, the freedom to express myself and hearing the opinions of others of all ages.”