Dr. Steward: Altus High School Alum Spotlight

Amanda Davis

Dr. Robbie Jean (Roberts) Steward graduated from Altus High School in 1972.  While at Altus High School, Robbie was the first African-American selected to attend Girls State, a week-long summer opportunity for young ladies to develop leadership and citizenship skills.  After high school, she attended the University of Oklahoma where she met and married her best friend, Robert Lee Steward, III.   Robbie earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology in 1977 from the University of Oklahoma; a Master’s of Arts in Counseling Psychology in 1979 from the University of Central Oklahoma; and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Oklahoma in 1984.  Of education, Dr. Steward says, “Being a continuous learner and appropriately applying that which is learned is one of the great joys of living and the basis of a successful life.”

     Dr. Steward spent her professional career working in the field of counseling and counseling psychology.  She was a tenure-track faculty member at the University of Kansas, Michigan State University, and Stephen F. Austin State University, achieving the highest rank of Professor.  From 2005-2010 she was appointed by the governor as a member of the Michigan Board of Counseling. Dr. Steward was awarded “Fellow” from the American Psychological Association (APA) in three divisions:  Society of Counseling Psychology, Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race, and Society for the Psychology of Women.  Fellow status is an honor bestowed upon APA members, who have shown evidence of unusual and outstanding contributions or performance in the field of psychology. This achievement requires that a person's work has had a national impact on the field of psychology beyond local, state or regional levels.  In addition, Dr. Steward is the founder and executive editor of the Journal of Human Services: Training, Research, and Practice, which has an international readership.  As a scholar, her dossier includes numerous professional, refereed, journal publications and conference presentations.  She retired from Stephen F. Austin State University as department chair/professor in 2020.

      Robbie credits her mother, Ms. Monetta Lazel Devine,  as her primary motivator toward life success.  She said:  “My mother had a clearly defined dream for me and upon high school graduation, her dream became my own, and was enhanced by continued learning and life experiences.  I live beyond that which neither of us could have imagined because of God’s influence in my life decision-making.”     She also noted Mrs. Mary Williams, her pre-school teacher, as one who taught her to stretch academically beyond her own expectations and to love doing so.  It is because of this instruction, Robbie said that she was sufficiently prepared in reading and writing, allowing her to begin school in the 2nd grade at Robert E. Lee Elementary.

     Several teachers from her time at Altus High School were a positive influence on her life: Ms. Lucy Williams, Mr. Buel Garvin, Mrs. Patricia Knarr, Mr. Larry King and Mr. Larry Harris.  “Each provided me with a distinct base that served as a building block to success throughout my education and career. There were un-named others, who supported, acknowledged my talents, and facilitated my academic development with opportunities for exposure,” stated Dr. Steward. “I am grateful for my experience in Altus, Oklahoma and at Altus High School.  I was prepared to achieve all goals before me and effectively overcome barriers and challenges.”

     Robbie and Robert have one daughter, who is successful in her own right, having a doctoral degree as well.  However, out of all the titles Dr. Steward has been given over the years, her favorite is being known by her granddaughter as “Grandest”.

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Amanda Davis