After two years of holding the position of treasurer, Dr. Samuel Foster, 50, was elected as Academic Senate president. As his second year as president comes to a close, he explains the process on how he got to where he is today.
Born in 1964 in the Rural South Boot-Hill part of southern Missouri, bordering Arkansas, his family moved to Milwaukee at the age of three in search of a better life.
Foster attended an entirely black grade school and had a great love for music. He began playing piano for his church group at age six and played for the choir at age 10.
Soon things would drastically change for Foster, he went from an all black grade school to a predominantly white high school.
After graduating high school, Foster received a scholarship to Andrews University, a private Institution in Michigan. His original plan was to be an OB-GYN, but after conducting a research paper on the career [OB-GYN] in high school, he determined that he’d rather not spend all that time and incur that amount of debt.
Foster began as a music major in Andrews University and he was a member of a Symphonic-Jazz band, sometimes playing audiences from small rooms to a few hundred people, Foster never felt nervous till after the show was over.
As with all good things there was a catch. There was intense competition at his school and Foster was not into that aspect of the music. He decided to go with his second love; science and math.
Chemistry was his new major, being a perfect blend of science and math.
“I liked the ‘what can happen factor’ and the ‘what just happened factor,'” Foster said.
All was not easy though while he was a student. Foster worked for every bit of what he had, 80 hour weeks in the summer, two part-time jobs during school along with a full-time schedule of science classes.
He never went home for the holidays or spring break; that time was used to earn extra cash while everyone else was away.
“You know my typical week was 80-100 hours of work and school,” Foster stated.
It all paid off though, when Foster got a job at the Dow Chemical Company. At the time Dow was the second largest chemical company in the country and sixth in the world.
At the age of 22, Foster moved to Midland, Mich. where his supervisor saw potential in him almost immediately and told him to pursue a Ph.D.
Later, Foster’s supervisor’s supervisor pulled him aside and suggested the same thing.
Foster was hesitant due to the amount of work going back to school would entail. It was explained to him that a doctorate degree was largely research undertaking and was quite similar to what he was already doing for Dow Chemical.
In 1987, Foster scouted a few schools to continue his education, one was UC Berkeley.
When he arrived to UC Berkeley, there were virtually no African-American graduate chemistry candidates. He also noted the strange practice of pairing up the African-American graduate students together regardless of field specification and assigning them to talk to African-American professors.
He saw that he wasn’t speaking with the faculty member that he wanted to or thought he should be speaking with.
When the issue was raised to administration, they explained that they thought it would be more comfortable for him and the other African-American students.
“I already knew how to be black, I wanted to know how to be a graduate student,” Foster said.
Although Foster admitted that if he wasn’t so used to the racial divide and how to navigate around it, he might not have been able to see their point of view. Foster called it, “The Liberal Trap.”
Eventually he decided on UC Irvine and begun his graduate work there along with the teaching assistant requirements for his Doctorate.
Foster began his dissertation in 1993 while also working at Glendale Community College.
The following year, he finished his dissertation and came to Fullerton College. In the summer of 1994 he defended his dissertation and received his Ph.D in Organometallic Chemistry.
Foster began his 21 year career at Fullerton teaching CHEM 111 as a full-time faculty member.
His first main goal was to revamp the science labs which had remained virtually the same since the ’60s.
In 1995 Foster had a brief stint on the Academic Senate, but it was short lived as the meeting times and the labs times conflicted.
He chose to opt out and work the labs for the students.
Now along with his duties on the Academic Senate, he teaches Chemistry, holding a Ph.D. in Organometallic Chemistry.