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From Prisoner to PhD

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A high school dropout with a criminal record and a history of alcoholism, in 1979, Anthony Baxter was inspired by his dream of being a psychologist to transform his identity. Committing himself to realizing his dream, he quit his welding job and enrolled at San Francisco City College. Graduating with honors, he earned his AA in mathematics. In 1982, graduating magna cum laude, he earned his BA in psychology at San Francisco State. In 1986, at Harvard, he earned his MEd in psychology. In 1989, he earned his PhD in educational psychology at Stanford. Dr. Baxter’s hard-won professional skills in conjunction with his social background commit him to using his professional skills and talents to serve something greater than himself: the less fortunate and vulnerable members of society.

A self-actualized human being, Dr. Baxter’s career path sees him intentionally serving in diverse contexts, including schools, communities, and the military. Dr. Baxter currently serves as a special staff officer for the Marine Corps, researching and developing the effectiveness of instruction aimed at reducing the behaviors that undermine marines’ fitness and readiness to defend freedom. A former marine, one discharged early because of persistent alcoholism, Dr. Baxter has come full circle, advising marine commanders on how to prepare marines to bounce back from the setbacks that can lead them to seek relief in maladaptive behaviors.
That rare individual for whom the most compelling theme of his story is more about what he overcame and less about what he accomplished, Dr. Baxter believes that his narrative of the transitions, turning points, and transformations that led to his self-realization show how people can transcend the need to engage in criminal, addictive, and other maladaptive behaviors and live free and productive lives.