20 for 20: Elijah Foulks

Tell us a little about yourself: where did you go to college, what was your first job out of college, what do you do now?

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I’m the second born of six sons, and I’m a Sagittarius! My undergraduate and graduate school degrees were completed at the State University of New York at Potsdam (GO BEARS!). My first gig out of college was being an air filtering and cleaning machine salesman (for a company that I shall never name!). After a while, I went from salesman to adjunct teaching. I currently work at Maria College in Administrative Support. I also perform as an emcee on the side.

How have your dreams or goals for yourself changed since you were in high school?

That’s a very tricky question. I’d have to say that the purpose of my dreams since high school haven’t changed too much, but the form in which I can achieve that purpose has changed. Critical analysis is something I’m heavy on. To be able to challenge a certain set of ideas or argue varying points from a specific stance is enjoyable for me. Many of those aspects come into play with the methodology of teaching.

Do you think your high school self would be surprised or impressed by your current occupation?

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Absolutely! The “Me” of Christmas past would be completely elated that I went on to experience and complete a college education considering my background and my family’s situation. Fortunately, it didn’t even stop at four years; it went all the way to grad school and beyond, so the younger “Me” would be dually impressed!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Two short-term goals that I see myself accomplishing within that time would be owning a home and working in a position that improves the condition of collegiate education. I wouldn’t mind being a Dean or working on some sort of committee or educational elective board in the future.

Do you remember how you felt when you learned you were accepted into Sponsor-A-Scholar?

Relief might be the best descriptor for how I initially felt. I have an older brother who had been accepted into the program and I didn’t think I’d get in at the time. I remember my parents explaining how much of a great tool Sponsor-A-Scholar was for my sibling. Now, Sponsor-A-Scholar has become such a help for my family, as there have been four members of my family accepted into the program, including my younger brother, Victorious, who is heading to college this month, and my brother Job who will be a junior at Albany High School.

What was the most important thing that you learned from Sponsor-A-Scholar?

That’s another question that wouldn’t do justice to the program! It’s almost unfair to pick one of the many things I’ve learned through Sponsor-A-Scholar. I’d have to say that lessons in time management and research skills really made an impression on me. It’s great to know that a fire can be hot without having to touch it and get burned. That analogy explains the preemptive preparation that Sponsor-A-Scholar familiarized me with before I ever stepped foot on a college campus.

Is there one person that helped you reach where you are now?

I’d be foolish not to recognize the one and only MARTY ANDERSON. He was my guidance counselor and he had to deal with all my nonchalant attitude towards college and very lackluster effort in high school. If it wasn’t for him I don’t really think I’d have considered the value of not just a college education but also the life experience that comes with it…..to actually get me out of the small world that is Albany, NY and explore new lands. Mr. Anderson is truly a great person.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome to earn your degree(s)?

One of the most challenging things was being able to say “NO” to certain people and certain things. I’m only one person with 24 hours in a day, the same as everyone else. Everything can’t occupy the same space when it comes to priorities and the order in which goals are to be accomplished. It is very possible to overextend yourself in a way that compromises the goals that should come first.

How did you overcome that challenge? I didn’t really overcome it, I suffered the consequences of multi-tasking overload in order to learn not to overcrowd myself in the future.

How did having a mentor change the way you approached other relationships since high school/college?

My mentor’s influence encouraged me not to be such a recluse. Going to meetings, having conference calls, attending events, and reaching out is alright. Don’t feel bad about it and don’t be intimidated. It’s better to seek and not find than it is to never seek and wonder what could have possibly come of it if you had.

As an adjunct professor, what’s one lesson you try to impart to your students?

Critical thought! The best thing one can be within society at large is autodidactic! College is supposed to be an atmosphere that serves as an incubator fostering minds in order for those minds to be able to teach themselves how to learn ANYTHING!

What do you wish Sponsor-A-Scholar had offered to you either in high school or college?

I wish they had given me access to resources that could inform me a bit more about budgeting. I know that the program itself has changed over time, but I do wish there were more lessons regarding investment and fiscal discipline in concordance to the stipends rewarded.

If you could say one thing to your Sponsor, what would it be?

Thank you from the deepest depths of my heart. Your patronage has not only helped me, but it has also inspired me to pay it forward in the form of some sort of aid for Scholars in the future.

You have two younger brothers in Sponsor-A-Scholar. What advice do you give them?

From Left: Elijah's parents Lowendell and Milisa Foulks, Elijah, Victorious, Job and Judah.

From Left: Elijah's parents Lowendell and Milisa Foulks, Elijah, Victorious, Job and Judah.

I stress for them to remain unafraid to ask questions and to remain unafraid to ask for any assistance in any shape or form from Sponsor-A-Scholar. Build a network within this organization and amongst mentorship within this organization. It’s easy to lose touch with the many people you’ve once connected with via this particular program, and you have to work to maintain your contacts. The stronger your support system, the stronger the chances of you maintaining success through life.


 

 

Anything else?

From the very soul of me, THANK YOU to all that make Sponsor-A-Scholar a possibility. There’s no way I can repay this organization for all that they do, but I hope I can reach a position that would allow me to give to others what this program has given to me and other Scholars like me.

Thank you so much Elijah! We are so proud of you!