2012 All-Pennsylvania Scholars
The College has named soon-to-be graduates Christopher Thomas and Adam Fozien as 2012 All-Pennsylvania Scholars. The two are the first male students that the College has selected to receive the prestigious award in more than five years.
All-Pennsylvania team members, two from each community college in the state, will be honored by the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges at a ceremony that will be held in Harrisburg. Each scholar is eligible to receive a full scholarship to any of the state’s 14 public colleges and universities to complete their undergraduate degree. All recipients must be members of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.
Foizen, 30, is a Music major who plans to use his many artistic talents to raise money for Riggtown Revitalization, which he conceives as a nonprofit that will help run after-school arts programs for youths, build skate parks and provide helping hands to senior citizens.
“Our goals are to provide a better quality of life through music education, building community infrastructure and community service,” Foizen said. “While this is a grand undertaking, incrementally it is possible.”
After graduating high school in Montgomery County, Foizen briefly attended a theatre conservatory in New York City. He left the conservatory and months later accidentally gouged his right eye with a knife. The accident threw him into an emotional tailspin, and he traveled the country for several years, Foizen said.
He eventually married and returned to the Philadelphia area. When his wife decided to resume her college career at Community College of Philadelphia, Foizen followed her example.
“I was an atrocious student in high school, and a good amount of time had passed. My only option financially and academically was Community College of Philadelphia. This was in no way a bad thing,” Foizen said. “I treat it as if I were going to Harvard. I want to do the best I can in every class all of the time.”
That philosophy has helped Foizen maintain a 3.81 grade point average.
Foizen said it would be hard to point to any one member of the College faculty as his inspiration. “The entire Music Department is inspirational,” he said.
Foizen is slated to receive his associate’s degree in May, about the same time his wife will graduate from Temple University. He has applied to transfer to West Chester University in September.
Thomas, 36, an Education major, started at Community College of Philadelphia in 2009. Despite a 15-year absence from the classroom, Thomas was confident that he would do well in college. And, so he has.
The only blemish on Thomas’ near-perfect academic record is single a “C” in Math earned in his second term at the College. He was distracted by personal problems at home at the time, Thomas said. The misstep shook his confidence, and he briefly considered quitting as he had once before after a single semester at Temple University.
However, after giving it some thought, Thomas decided to stay and pursue his dream of becoming a high school teacher. That same year, he won the $2,000 Dr. Lorraine H. Brown Scholarship in Memory of the Floyd Family. It was a turning point. “I went from feeling upset at losing perfection to feeling unstoppable,” said Thomas, who currently has a 3.91 Grade Point Average (GPA).
“I want to teach History in inner-city, underserved schools,” Thomas said. “That is what I am in it for. If I could not do that, I would not be interested in teaching.”
Thomas believes his personal experience will help him connect with his future students. He attended Central High School, but admits to losing interest in academics in the two years before graduation. There were family issues and a pregnant girlfriend battling for his attention.
After graduation, he enrolled at Temple. “My heart was not in it,” he said. “I was there because it was expected of me.” He quit after one semester and went to work.
Thomas decided to resume his college education after years of going from job to job with no career path. “In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what I would major in, but I knew that I wanted to do well no matter what,” Thomas said.
Thomas said professor Marcia Epstein, coordinator of the Education department, has reinforced his desire to teach. Epstein has served as his advisor and friend for much of his time here. “She is an inspirational figure because she wants us to be successful and because she cares about the kids we are going to teach,” Thomas said. “She directly inspired me to be about my business and not to be an excuse maker, or a slacker.”
Thomas is on track to graduate with honors this May and is considering several transfer options.