More than a fan: Retired Air Force Captain Edward Hourigan completes dream of Michigan degree

December 19, 2016

It didn’t matter what country or time zone he was in, Edward Hourigan was either serving his country, taking care of his family or completing coursework as a graduate student at UM-Dearborn.

Edward Hourigan

Whether he was in an airport, airplane, a dorm, at home, hotels, work, or his children’s soccer games, Hourigan was committed to graduating.

Saturday the commitment paid off as he checked off an item on his professional bucket list and earned his Master of Science degree in finance.

Hourigan said he had only taken one finance course prior to graduate school. He knew the coursework would be difficult, but the end result—including being able to call himself a Wolverine—would be worth the hard work.

“I didn’t want to just be a University of Michigan fan; I wanted to be a Wolverine,” said Hourigan, a St. Clair Shores, Michigan native whose wife, Diana, is a current student at UM-Flint. “I knew I would be at a disadvantage and this course of study would be a huge challenge for me. However, with hard work, dedication and perseverance, University of Michigan-Dearborn has proved to me that great things can happen to those who sincerely want to better themselves.”

Hard work and dedication are nothing new for Hourigan. He is a retired U.S. Air Force captain who was stationed in Alaska, Nevada, Okinawa, the Middle East, Germany, England, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, the Republic of Korea, the Portuguese Azores and Florida—during his 21-year career.

“I always wanted to be an Air Force aviator. While serving as an enlisted airman, I was given the opportunity to attend the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School—where only 50 prior-enlisted airmen are selected each year, and then went on to complete my undergrad at the United States Air Force Academy itself to earn my commission and a slot in flight school,” he said. “But if it weren’t for my wife, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now—she pushed me to go to graduate school.”

Since retiring from the Air Force, Hourigan has continued to work for the government as an employee of Lockheed Martin as a team member of the F-22A Raptor fighter jet program.

And his time at UM-Dearborn reinforced the lesson that individuals are stronger when they work together.

“This university reinforced to me how people of all cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities and races can come together as one to help each other,” he said. “I could not have found success in this program without the help of my professors, my classmates and the support staff, who have come from all around the world. As Coach Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler would say, “The team, the team, the team!”

While he wasn’t able to attend commencement Saturday, Hourigan celebrated in his adopted hometown of Panama City Beach, Fla., where he and his family do their best to spread the maize and blue spirit. He is the founder of the Emerald Coast University of Michigan Fan Club—which supports both local and Michigan charities, including Champs for Mott and Chad Tough—and he’s hopeful that one day he will move back to his home state to work for the U-M athletics department.

Reflecting on his path to graduation, Hourigan said, “I’m living proof that at age 41, no dreams are impossible to achieve. I never thought this dream would become a reality, but I did it. I can honestly say to the fellow graduates from the Class of 2016, while stealing a quote from Coach James J. Harbaugh, “Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!”