By Sandra Boggie
STEPHEN FREDERICK HOUSER
(pictured on left)
BA, St. John’s College, Santa Fe, 1979; San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 1980-82; MA, University of Virginia, 1989; PhD, University of Virginia, 1990; President’s Fellow, University of Virginia, 1987-90; Tutor, St. John’s College, Santa Fe, 1983-present.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Sandra Boggie: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Mr. Houser: My name is Stephen Frederick Houser, I was born in 1955 in Grand Junction, Denver, Colorado.
I went to South Lakewood Elementary School and for my junior High School I went to Creighton after which I proceeded to Lakewood High School and graduated a semester earlier than the rest of the students.
Sandra Boggie: Why was that so?
Mr. Houser: (jokingly) I was just too smart to keep being in school (laughs). Also, to be honest, I just didn’t want to be in that school, the system, the curriculum, it wasn’t for me.
Sandra Boggie: Well, it sure does seem so. So what did you do next after High School?
Mr. Houser: I took a gap year. I wasn’t yet ready to go to College because I did not have money to pay for tuition. But I knew I wanted to be a painter, so I painted, and did a lot of other cool stuff like reading.
I also worked many jobs including but not limited to carpentry, short order cook…
Sandra Boggie: Sorry, what is that?
Mr. Houser: Oh, a short order cook is a cook who specializes in preparing simple dishes that can be made very quickly. You get to work in places like diners and fast food restaurants, where speedy service is emphasized, and the menu tends to be kept very simple. I worked the breakfast shift making lots of eggs and pancakes.
Sandra Boggie: Sounds really cool. What else did you do?
Mr. Houser: I worked at the Post Office, anything decent to save up money for college.
Sandra Boggie: Then…
Mr. Houser: I applied to St. John’s College, Santa Fe in 1975, and guess what, I got in!
Sandra Boggie: Awesome! But why St John’s?
Mr. Houser: Well, having researched on the school, I knew it was the right choice for me. I was part of the intellectual nerdy crowd back in High School. During my free time, my friends and I would literally sit and talk about books and politics. St. John’s was a natural fit for me. Also, I was in Ecology club in High School and among the many tours we had, was a Santa Fe based one. We came down here and the event was held at Great Hall. I got to see the College, I got to interact with variety of students and I loved every bit of it. That was the beginning of my four years as a student in St. John’s.
Sandra Boggie: What did you do after St. John’s?
Mr. Houser: I went to a Music School. I enrolled in San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1980, successfully completed my first year. I was supposed to go for my second year but run out of money. So I knew I wasn’t even going to graduate
Sandra Boggie: Did you graduate though?
Mr. Houser: Of course I did!
Sandra Boggie: So, what did you do after leaving San Francisco Conservatory of Music?
Mr. Houser: I came back to Santa Fe and a friend and I started a small business. So I knew how to play the guitar really well and was like, why not try to teach the young kids of Santa Fe how to play the guitar? My friend was really good with sales and all that stuff, so I taught the kids how to play the guitar and he tried to sell to them some of the guitars we owned. That lasted for so long…After a year, I applied to work as a paralegal in a law firm in Santa Fe. The firm doesn’t exist anymore. Then in 1989 I left for Virginia, I enrolled at the University of Virginia for my PhD program, graduated and returned to Santa Fe, working at the Law firm I talked about earlier, still as a paralegal.
Sandra Boggie: At what point did you then realize you wanted to be a teacher?
Mr. Houser: While I was still working at the law firm, I had a former tutor talk to me about applying as a tutor to St. John’s. I mean, I had the necessary qualification needed. I thought about it for sometime and decided to give it a go. It worked. And that is how I am working as a tutor to date.
Sandra Boggie: You enjoy it, don’t you?
Mr. Houser: Of course I do!
Sandra Boggie: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Mr. Houser: I love teaching because it gives me the opportunity to learn. I have learnt a great deal of things since I’ve been here. I have learnt to be patient, most especially because I work with students who are completely diverse in their way of thinking, some are fast, some are slow and all that. So, I guess I enjoy the fact that I have gotten to grow as a person, while at the same time learning. And I love being able to teach rather show people other ways to look at things. It’s interesting.
Sandra Boggie: What is the hardest part about your job?
Mr. Houser: Reading papers!!!! To be honest, I am so slow when it comes to reading the students’ papers. But the good thing is I get the work done. I guess I am learning as time goes, on how to be efficient yet still effective.
Sandra Boggie: If you had to choose another career, which would it be?
Mr. Houser: I would be a musician. I am looking into Archaeology as well. I might get into it because I have realized I am so good at collecting rocks (laughs)
Sandra Boggie: That’s great! Thank you so much for your time Mr. Houser. It was a pleasure having you!
Mr. Houser: It was a pleasure speaking with you!