Graduand David Walker laces up his running shoes as he prepares to strike another goal off his bucket list.

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Grad strikes philosophy degree off long bucket list

October 03, 2017
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By Diane Luckow

David Walker, 68, enjoyed an enviable career, touching down in more than 60 countries as part of his work in leading charitable organizations.

So why did he return to SFU to complete a BA in philosophy after abandoning it 37 years ago when he was just seven credits shy of graduating?

Completing his degree is just one of 32 goals on a bucket list he began compiling almost two years ago after he retired and then learned he has incurable kidney disease.

“It caused me to think about what I wanted to accomplish,” he says, “like writing three books, setting some age records in running, and getting some significant joy from receiving my SFU degree.”

He says SFU is one of the best environments in Canada for offering creative options for sustained learning.

“So I put myself back in that environment to grow mentally,” he says, noting some of the best and brightest young philosophy students included him in their study group, where they discussed esoteric points of philosophy.

“It was just brilliant.”

Walker selected philosophy as his major all those years ago because he was, and still is, a child of the ’60s.

“It was a search for meaning and discovery, and it was pretty sweet.”

And while work, marriage and kids interrupted that discovery, he doesn’t downplay its value throughout his life and career. He says the reasoning and logic skills he acquired during his philosophy studies stood him in good stead when making decisions about public health ethics and other complex issues.

Walker spent the last years of his career in Canada, where he was vice-president of World Vision Canada and then vice-president of Prostate Cancer Canada in Vancouver.

This fall, just before he crosses the convocation stage in October, he’ll participate in a five-kilometer run at Hyde Park in London as he runs towards his next goal of acquiring 20 t-shirts from 20 different runs in 20 different countries.

“I have seven so far,” he grins.

And now, a degree.