Tori Foster, Staff Writer

As the clock slowly approaches 3:30 a.m., you suddenly hear Dornette Foster wrestling her sheets. She awakes knowing she must be at Dierbergs supermarket for work by 6:30 a.m. Dornette lays in bed for an hour watching television until five. Foster has been living in the same apartment for the past 20 years and loves the neighborhood she stays in.  “My family lives here and I felt secure in this area to raise a family.”

As the sun appears through the curtains, Foster’s whole house began to light up with sunshine. The house is filled with the smell of hot chocolate as Foster makes a cup while getting dressed for work. The faint sound of FOX2 News echoed from her room as Foster prepares for work.

The apartment is completely silent. Every small movement is heard. Doors of different apartments are opening, the thud of footsteps walking down the hallway and the steps, and the sound of the front and back door swinging open and close.

Foster has been living by herself for the past two years. Her two daughters Drew, 22, and Tori, 20, went off to college to the University of Missouri–St. Louis once they graduated high school. Foster raised her kids in the same apartment their whole lives. They attended the Normandy School District from kindergarten to 12th grade. Although, Normandy lost their accreditation back in 2012 due to their lack of performance. Normandy failed to meet the minimum of nine out the 14 performance standards which are required for accreditation, Dornette still believed, “It was still a great district.”

At 6 a.m. Foster starts to leave out the door and quickly head down the stairs. She starts up her car then changes the radio station to 95.5, an R&B and old school radio station. Foster turns up the knob on the radio once they start to broadcast the world and local news.

By 6:15 a.m. she is at Dierbergs, ready to clock in and start working. Foster is a lead seafood deli manager and she starts off her day at work cleaning her case full of seafood. Pounds of ice were shoveled out and replaced to “make sure the case does not smell fishy for the customers.”

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Foster always believed in the importance of education ever since she was a little kid. “The more knowledge you have the better you can be and become.” Foster grew up in North St. Louis with her mother, Deborah Hoskins. She has no siblings. Foster attend Highcroft Ridge in the Parkway School District and at the age of 17, and graduated from Jennings High School with an aspiration to be a pharmacist.

While deciding what college to attend, Foster received an offer in the mail. Southeast Missouri State (SEMO) offered her a four-year scholarship. Unfortunately, Foster declined because she wanted to stay closer to her mother. Florissant Valley Community College was the best college for her at the time. “I used [the scholarship] as a prerequisite to get into St. Louis College of Pharmacy.” Foster wanted to create a better life for herself and she believed education was the key to success. Foster and all her friends attended college after graduation. They genuinely supported one another to finish their degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ College Enrollment and Work Activity of Recent High School and College Graduates Summary from October 2017, “Among recent high school graduates age 16 to 24, women remained more likely to be enrolled in college (71.7 percent) than men (61.1 percent).”

Foster went to Florissant Valley for a year and a half, but she couldn’t pass math and decide to pursue other dreams.

Fresh out of high school she had few job opportunities, but she decided to work at Fashion Gal as a supervisor. Fashion Gal was a retail store that sold cute tops and bottoms for teenagers. While working as a supervisor for Fashion Gal for a year and six months she was also going to Elaine Steven Beauty School to obtain her cosmetology license. Eventually, she decided it was not for her, but she was glad to have the experience because “I learned how to do hair. I learned how to take care of myself and my skin.”

At the age of 22 Foster had her first daughter, Drew Foster. By 24, Foster had her second daughter, Tori Foster.

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Later, she decide to go back to Florissant Valley at the age of 31. She was 34 when she got her associates degree in applied sciences for management and supervision.

In her mid-30s, she attempted to go back to school to obtain her bachelor’s degree in business. She went to Fontbonne and the University of Phoenix while her kids were in middle school. She did not obtain her degree because she began to invest in her kids’ dreams.

Foster has been working at Dierbergs for the past 10 years. She started off as an assistant deli manager, got promoted to lead deli assistant manager, later was promoted again to seafood manager and just recently was accepted into the deli manager program. Foster was able to get this position because she had the job experience of being an assistant manager at Children’s Place and a dietary supervisor at Sarah Community.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states, “Among 20- to 29-year-olds, 79.8 percent of recent associate degree recipients, 77.6 percent of recent bachelor’s degree recipients, and 77.5 percent of recent advanced degree recipients were employed.”

Mivon Green, 25, English teacher, an alum of UMSL and Lindenwood expressed, “Earning a college degree changed how I perceived myself, which means it provided a level of confidence to embark on difficult tasks and find ways to persist through those challenges.” Green’s job opportunities have increased by going to college because it allowed him “to get [his] foot in the door and make connections.” Since obtaining his college degree, Green has had more stable jobs, therefore he is a more qualified candidate in the competitive job market.

Elma Hodzic, 26, English teacher at McCluer North School High School, an alum of UMSL had a life-changing experience from her college degree. Hodzic said, “Getting a college degree helped shaped my whole life! I was able to start my career that is both my passion and purpose.” Hodzic used to work as a part-time teller at a bank and now she is working full time as a teacher. Her job opportunities dramatically increased since she graduated high school.

As Foster’s regular customers approach her case, she instantly greets them with a smile. “Hello! How may I help you today?” The customer replies, “Hi! I wanted three pounds of snow crabs.” Foster quickly grabs some gloves from the box on the counter, places a sheet of wrapping paper on the scale, and keep placing the snow crabs on the scale until the scale said 3.0. Foster printed off the label and bagged the crab legs for the customer.

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Job expectations always change depending on the job and company you work for. Some jobs want you to have a high school degree or a general education degree (GED). Others want you to have a bachelor or master’s degree in a certain field.

Isaiah Norphlet, 21, an Express Scripts worker, a Normandy High School alum, expressed his experience with not going to college. Norphlet stated, “I feel like I have more time for myself and getting life essentials like a car. College going to be there.” Norphlet feels he has a lot of job opportunities because of his work experience and work ethic. Despite not having a college degree, Norphlet says all his jobs have been very stable because he usually works there so long that his manger has him train the new people that comes into the company. Norphlet has currently been working at Express Scripts for the past two years.

Although Norphlet is stable in life, this is not the case for most people in their 20s. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Among those age 20 to 29, unemployment rates for recent associate degree recipients, recent bachelor’s degree recipients, and recent advanced degree recipients were 5.6 percent, 8.3 percent, and 11.9 percent, respectively.”

Most people who do not attend college miss out on the liberal arts section, which are general education requirements for all college students. Liberal arts are academic subjects such as literature, social and physical science, mathematics, etc.

Liberal arts are important because people learn universal principles about everything that exists in the world. Liberal arts teaches us about our history and our future through the course curriculum. These courses allow individuals to free their mind and explore without any restrictions.

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As the second hand wraps around the clock one more time, the hour and minute hand finally hit one o’clock, an hour before Foster gets off. Foster began to walk over to the deli side of her department and help her coworkers by assisting the customer who are waiting in line with a number. “Number 48?” Foster scans the crowd to find the customer with number 48. Nobody responded. “Number 49?” A customer quickly raised her hand and Foster began to assist the customer needs with a smile. After a few more number and Foster making sure everything is under control during the lunch rush, her shift was over. She clocks out then drives home to relax.

Foster believed her degree has impacted her life significantly because “It allows me to have a bargaining chip on asking for better money and benefits.” Her degree taught her patience, accountability and documentation. These skills help Foster in every management position she ever had. She feels these skills are universal and can be used anywhere. Foster still thinks that if she did not go back to get her degree she would still work because she loves having her own money.

Education equips people with the necessary tools and skills needed in the world to be productive citizens. Education is very powerful and it can change a person’s life. The way we use our knowledge is up to us. We can change the issues in the world around us or create inventions that can make our daily lives more innovative.

Foster was able to find her passion for management through her college courses. Her college degree helped her get a job in her career field.

Federal researchers used data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine whether employed grads were in jobs that typically required a college degree, what those jobs paid, and whether they were working full- or part-time. They found that in 2012, about 44 percent of grads were working in jobs that didn’t require a college degree — a rate that, while about what it was in early 1990s, increased after the 2001 and 2007-09 recessions.

A college degree is still a step towards achieving the American dream of opportunity success and upward mobility along with a family.