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Wallace-Dothan Student Delivers Inspiration at ACCS Day

4/14/2016

Dothan, Ala. – Wallace Community College-Dothan Associate Degree Nursing student Jennifer Foster was one of three student speakers at the 2016 Alabama Community College System Day Celebration in Montgomery. Foster is a student in the Associate Degree Nursing program who has already obtained an associate degree, an achievement that is only the first step to greater goals. 

Speaking to a crowd of hundreds of students, Foster challenged them with the question, “How many of you have been afraid of doing something just because you were afraid of failing? How many of you were so scared of failing that you let great opportunities just pass you by?” When challenged by fear, she quoted Zig Ziglar (who was born in Coffee County), who said “F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ ” Foster has chosen the latter.

Foster’s mother was an important inspiration in her life, and a role model that Foster would come to emulate. She raised four children on a limited income, which sometimes included peanut butter sandwiches to eat. Christmas was a meager event in the household, sometimes consisting of toothbrushes and socks for presents.

But obstacles became determination, and her mother returned to school at a community college at age thirty-nine. She graduated with high honors and continued with her education, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Education. She dedicated most of her career to special education. “She cared for those who may not have a voice in the care that they receive,” said Foster. “My mother’s example not only instilled in me the value of an education, but also the value of caring for others when they are unable to care for themselves,” said Foster.

At age thirty-nine, Foster returned to school at a community college – just like her mother did before her. Her first goal was to complete an associate degree.

Foster’s faith and family carried her through the initial trauma of returning to the classroom. During her first semester she learned that her father was terminally ill. He passed away during her second semester. Through all of the hardships, her mother reminded her that she could “do hard things.” Foster completed her goal and received her associate degree, summa cum laude. She is now in her third semester of the ADN program at Wallace-Dothan.

Determination can affect generations. Just as she learned from her mother, Foster’s husband, Jason, reminded her that their children were watching her. Two of the their daughters are enrolled in universities and one is a high school student who is dually enrolled at Wallace-Dothan.

Foster also credits Wallace-Dothan with giving her the support to succeed. “Wallace-Dothan, by far, has some of the most outstanding, caring, and loving instructors,” she said. “I am constantly being encouraged, driven, challenged, and prayed for.”

“Jennifer is a highly motivated student who has proven herself in her nursing courses, clinicals, and labs,” said Jackie Spivey, ADN division director at WCCD. “She is driven to do whatever it takes to be successful.  Her speech at ACCS Day is an example of how she motivates her classmates to be a better students.”

In closing, Foster advised the students not to run from their fears, but face them. “I can see now, that actually running toward fear has helped me to accomplish many things,” she said. Foster closed by repeating the Ziglar quote and encouraged the crowd to “Face Everything And Rise.” With a lift of her hand she said, “The choice is yours.” 

Governor Robert Bentley and ACCS Chancellor Dr. Mark Heinrich also addressed the hundreds of students, faculty, and staff representing Alabama’s 25 member colleges gathered on the steps of the Museum of Alabama and the Department of Archives and History. April is Community College Month in Alabama. April 5 was the second annual ACCS Day. 

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