UACCB alum's childhood experience prompts career path
By Andrea Bruner
When Emily Foster graduated from high school, she thought her career path was set. She wanted to go into business.
But it wasn't long before she realized that wasn't her dream, after all. Instead, Foster wanted to help others the same way she herself was helped at age 5 and is now enrolled in a master's program studying speech pathology.
A 2017 graduate of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, Foster grew up in Pleasant Plains, the daughter of David and Lisa Foster. In 2015, she graduated from Midland High School, where she was also a member of Senior Beta and Future Business Leaders of America, and she was in competitive dance.
“I had dance almost every day and yearbook so those were the things that consumed my life in high school,” she said, explaining she that she served as editor and later, editor-in-chief of the school yearbook.
In the meantime, Foster kept up her grades and was an honor roll student during her high school career but admits she didn't apply herself academically like she could have at the time.
Because her ACT scores were not high enough to cover all of her tuition and other costs at four-year institutions, Foster began looking at other options. Making the decision to attend UACCB was an easy one.
“It's local and I could get what I needed and not to have to pay an arm and a leg for it,” Foster said. “Financially I knew that was going to be smartest decision I could make.”
A harder decision, however, would be what to study.
Foster said she changed her major four or five times while at UACCB.
“I came in thinking I wanted to do business, so I took all these business classes but really, I wanted to help people,” she said.
She took some social work classes but that didn't feel right, so she went back to business. But she still knew that wasn't what she wanted to do.
“I looked at psychology and finally got into speech language pathology,” she said. “I always wanted to do speech language pathology, but I was scared I couldn't handle it.”
Foster herself had been in speech therapy starting in kindergarten and going through the third or fourth grade.
“If it weren't for me going through speech therapy, I would not want to talk to people, or especially talk in front of crowds,” she said.
And she liked the idea of helping people, so after earning her associate's degree from UACCB with a 4.0 grade point average, she knew she would continue her studies at a four-year institution and go into speech pathology.
“It's funny now that I'm on the other side – so many people think it's (speech therapy) a bad thing but it's honestly such a blessing; it impacts that child so much,” she said.
While at UACCB, Foster had a busy two years, serving as a student ambassador, and in her freshman year she was also a representative for the Student Government Association. She worked a part-time job and later became president of the SGA.
Despite the hectic pace, but Foster said it never crossed her mind that she wasn't going to make it. “Now I don't know how I did it,” but she said she had a lot of people encouraging her.
“Van Taylor was my adviser and was the biggest blessing for me,” Foster said. “She was amazing.
“Amy Foree, who was the head of the ambassador program – anytime I had an issue, she was there. She still helps me out.”
After graduating from UACCB, Foster enrolled at Arkansas State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree, again with a 4.0 GPA, and is now attending a graduate school program.
“The program is an accelerated program; it started last May and I will graduate in December 2020 with my master's,” she said, noting that the timeline includes summer classes.
Right now, Foster works 20 hours a week as a graduate assistant in her department.
“Every day I have a schedule – I have a planner everywhere I go; it doesn't leave my side,” she remarked about how she stays on top of her studies and work.
She said her ultimate goal is to work in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Earlier this year, Foster was honored at ASU with the Chancellor's Scholar Award, which is given to one person in the Division of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and is based on GPA as well as the number of credit hours a student has taken. Foster said when she went to the banquet in April, she did not realize that she was the one who would be receiving the award.
“I came in and sat down with my friends, and they said, 'Did you know you are getting this award?' It was on the program and I said, 'What is this?' I had no idea what was going on,” she said with a laugh.
She joked that her parents give her the “If you had only applied yourself in high school” speech, so it was especially nice to be recognized for their sake.
“My parents were just really proud,” Foster said.