Anita Johnson, White House Intern
I was in the 2nd grade at the time I met Mr. Fisher. My mother is Regina Johnson, single mother of five and high school dropout. I remember when he would come to the recreation center in the Kimberly Gardens community to talk about college and have homework club. I had older siblings, and I remember Mr. Fisher and my mother having many conversations about preparing for college. His presence stuck with me and made an impact on my life. I am now a first-generation college graduate of Howard University. Completing college has transformed my life. During the summer of 2011 I did an internship with the Sutherland Asbill and Brennan law firm for a few months, and then went to New Mexico on an anthropology internship for three weeks to study the Buffalo Soldiers. After I got back, I started a fall internship with The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). I had the opportunity to draft policy legislation, attend briefings and hearings, meet countless congressional members; the president of Korea, Lee Myung-bak; First Lady Michelle Obama; and President Barack Obama! Most recently I started my internship at the White House. I am in the Office of Presidential Correspondence. I am also enrolled in Kaplan’s LSAT test preparation course at night at Howard University. I recognize that First Generation College Bound has had a huge part in my ongoing success!
Lonnie Moore, Consultant
I met Mr. Fisher on a basketball court in Laurel, Md., when I was 16. He asked me how I envisioned my life after high school, what were my plans. No one in my family had received a four-year degree from a college. We were poor—I was one of several grandchildren raised by my late grandmother, Mrs. Margaret Smith. I just wanted to get by in high school and go to work. Mr. Fisher became my father figure—he still is today—and showed me the importance of an education: how it can generate career opportunities, give you life skills and give you pride in yourself. He helped me apply to Potomac State, a community college in West Virginia, and helped me get financial aid. Potomac State had on-site living, so I got away and met folks from different backgrounds. It was a great blessing. Two years later I got accepted at the University of Maryland and Morgan State University, and I decided to go to Morgan State to play football. Mr. Fisher put his neck on the line for me many times, so I am trying to give back; I’m on the First Generation board of directors. We stay in touch, even though I’m on the road a lot traveling with my job. I’m not sure where I would be if Mr. Fisher had not been so persistent in his pursuit of me. There were times when I tried to run away, but he always pursued me. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Mr. Fisher and First Generation College Bound were definitely God-sent!
Stefanie Lomax, Rolyn Companies
Director of Human Resources
I was a junior in high school when my mother attended a workshop Mr. Fisher put on. My parents both had attended college, but neither had graduated. Mr. Fisher later came by the house to talk to the three of us about the college application and financial aid process. He was extraordinarily knowledgeable. I had always wanted to attend North Carolina A&T, but when I applied, I got denied. I was devastated. Mr. Fisher contacted the dean of admissions and got me an appointment to meet with the dean in person. In the meantime, he had me enroll in a SAT prep workshop, which increased my SAT score 90 points. I resubmitted my application, went down to A&T and got accepted in the dean of admissions’ office. It was all because of Mr. Fisher. After I graduated from A&T, I worked for American Express, but after two years I realized I didn’t want to stay with the company in the capacity I was in. Mr. Fisher gave me wonderful advice about graduate school. I earned a master’s in human resource management in 2001 from the University of Maryland University College. Mr. Fisher was an encourager all the way through. He didn’t know me from Adam when he first met me, but over these 16 years he and First Generation College Bound have been a huge part of my professional and personal development.
Gavin Brown, Trinity Assembly of God, Lutherville, Maryland
I met Mr. Fisher at my rental complex when I was 11 or 12. First Generation College Bound had a program called the Homework Club, where kids could come from the neighborhood and work with mentors and tutors. Mr. Fisher became a person who was regularly in my life. He came over to my house when I didn’t go to Homework Club, phoned me a lot and gave me a lot of encouragement. I was one of six children, my dad worked three jobs, my mom worked at McDonald’s. My parents had not gone to college. When I got my job I helped out with the groceries. I don’t think I would have gone to college without Mr. Fisher. I might be a Taco Bell manager today. He gave me exposure through bus trips to college campuses. He helped me sign up for PSAT and SAT tests. He showed me how to apply for financial aid. Those things were huge. When I got to Valley Forge Christian College, Mr. Fisher continued to call me and talk about the different stages I was at. We met when I was home on break, and he continued to play a vital role. Once, in a family crisis, my family became homeless. I thought about leaving college to help out. Mr. Fisher told me to stay the course, that quitting was not an option. He and First Generation College Bound helped shape me into the person I am today.
Mr. Fisher taught at my middle school. My teacher introduced me to him in sixth grade because she thought he could help make sure I stayed on the right track and made the right decisions. I saw Mr. Fisher two or three times a week, during lunch periods, free periods or after school. He became a mentor and second father figure. I stayed in contact when I got to high school. There was always a temptation to do what was considered cool, and cool didn’t necessarily go with what was right. I did get into trouble here and there, and Mr. Fisher was always a positive influence. He took me and my mom step by step through the college application and financial aid process. He also made a lot of calls to universities where he thought I would be a good fit. One in particular was Williams College in Massachusetts, one of the top colleges in the country, where he did a lot of advocating on my behalf. His daughter had gone there. I was accepted at Williams, but found it extremely difficult my first semester because of the culture shock and the rigorous course work. I had grown up in Baltimore City. Williams is in the country and it’s very, very affluent. I wasn’t coming from an affluent background. Also, the course work was very rigorous. Mr. Fisher advised me on how to better use my time and how to immerse myself in the new culture. I ended up making the dean’s list a couple of times and won a prestigious research fellowship. I applied to Ph.D. programs along with law schools my senior year. When it came time to deal with financial aspects of law school, again Mr. Fisher was a huge help; he’s an expert in how to get more money from various resources. Looking back, I’m sure I would not be going to such prestigious schools if it wasn’t for Mr. Fisher and First Generation College Bound. He thought I was fully capable, even when I didn’t have that type of belief in myself, and made me push for something higher.
Moronke Bridget Akintunde, HealthStream Research
Client Services Manager
First Generation College Bound is a unique program that has helped me realize the dream of obtaining a college education. I have been a proud member of this organization since 1996 and am currently an active alumni member of FGCB, encouraging others to take advantage of the many opportunities the program has to offer. Mr. Joe Fisher is my mentor and I remain active in the program through my present work with Mrs. Pat Fisher on the First Generation College Bound’s Retention Committee. I credit a lot of my educational success to Mr. Joe Fisher and FGCB. Because of Mr. Fisher’s support, I am passionate about helping others and I plan to continue working with Mr. Fisher to inspire other young adults to realize their dreams of graduating from college and becoming successful young women and men of tomorrow.
Loretta Thompson, Sitar Arts Center
Programs And Office Coordinator
My parents had not gone to college, yet knew of my strong desire to attend and tried to help me in any way they could. I was approached by my mother about First Generation College Bound about mid-senior year and she connected me with Mr. Fisher who gave me some advice about financial aid among other things. He was extremely helpful in assisting with the planning of my college future. A year later I returned for yet more advice from Mr. Fisher about how to transfer colleges, and again he provided me with very helpful information. Through his support and the support of First Generation College Bound, I earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2003 from the University of the Arts and a master’s degree in arts management in 2007 from George Mason University. I now provide the same type of assistance to other young people who are considering college education. I believe that the efforts of First Generation College Bound were vital and the knowledge and care passed along go a far longer way than most would expect. The relationship I have developed with the First Generation College Bound family has extended past the college experience. I plan to continue my involvement with First Generation so I can give to others the encouragement and motivation to move forward that was given to me.