Cal State East Bay interim President Leroy Morishita was on hand to congratulate Frankie Foster, the university's recipient of a Hearst/CSU Trustees scholarship at the Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach recently. (Photo: CSU)
Before she was even a teenager, Frankie Foster seemed to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. At 12 she was the primary caregiver for her younger sister while her single mother went on active duty in the military, deployed for six months or more at a time.
Today, as she pursues her master’s degree in educational leadership at California State University, East Bay, Foster is a single mother of four children of her own. Despite the pressures she juggles, the resident of Tracy has maintained a 3.85 (out of 4.0) grade point average in her master’s studies in educational leadership. She also holds down a fulltime job.
For that reason she has been honored as CSUEB’s recipient of the 2011-2012 William R. Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustee’s Award for Outstanding Achievement.
“Frankie Foster is especially deserving of this scholarship and the special recognition and support from the Hearst Foundation and the CSU Board of Trustees,” said Leroy Morishita, interim president of Cal State East Bay. “She has worked hard to achieve her educational goals and fully understands the value and importance of an education for herself and her family. We are proud that she is representing CSUEB as this year’s recipient.”
With the award comes a $3,000 scholarship. The award is given annually to one student at each of the 23 California State University campuses who has experienced personal hardships and demonstrated financial need. Each awardee also has shown superior academic performance, exemplary community service and significant personal achievements.
“I am going back to school to better myself so that I can not only help my family have a better quality of life, but other families as well,” Foster said.
Her pursuit of higher education started early. By the age of 18, Foster left home and was attending community college. From there, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Stanislaus.
While pursuing her education, she has struggled through two failed marriages that took their tolls on her financially, physically and emotionally, she said.
“I feel as though I have let my children down; I feel as though I have let myself down as I look at all of us crammed into one bedroom,” Foster said of her current living situation, since leaving her husband. “We gave up our house, cars, toys and other possessions to escape an abusive relationship, and here we are now … I work and attempt to pay off all the bills that somehow I got stuck with in the divorce.”
Her instructors have been impressed by her intelligence and stamina and have supported her academic efforts and her pursuit of the Hearst/CSU Trustees scholarship.
“I believe that Ms. Foster has the commitment and ability to become an excellent educational leader,” said Kris Krause, a lecturer who had Foster as a student in Introduction to Educational Leadership. “She has a keen grasp of qualities and practices of effective leadership. (She) has herself overcome many obstacles and as a leader will inspire others to do the same.”
Krause’s colleague on the educational leadership faculty, Michael Fanning, was equally enthusiastic about Foster’s prospects for the future.
“I am proud that an African American woman with such determination and such a commitment to creating a positive change in her community has decided to join our program,” Fanning said. “Frankie has done well in our program ... and will become a leader who will serve as a role model for others in the community.”
When she completes her master’s studies, she plans to go for a doctorate degree.
Foster’s goal is to establish an organization dedicated to helping women and their children who need assistance in leaving abusive relationships, while providing mentoring, tutoring and other resources.