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Being the first is a way of life for freshman psychology major Cassidy Foster. She became  the first person in her family to attend college this past fall when she enrolled in EKU. Now, with the help of the Stemler Study Abroad Scholarship from Alpha Lambda Delta, an honor society for first-year students, she will be the first in her family to travel internationally. 

“Earning this award means a lot to me because I will be the first person in my family to travel abroad,” said Foster. “Without this award, there is a very low chance I’d be able to go on the study abroad trip.”

The Harlan, Kentucky native, who is also earning a minor in women and gender studies, originally planned to travel to Italy this summer, but due to the pandemic, has postponed travel until Summer 2021. She plans to study “Enchanting Women of Ireland” with Dr. Lisa Day, director of women and gender studies at EKU. 

Each year, Alpha Lambda Delta awards twenty Stemler Scholarships nationally in the amount of $2,000. Earning the award places Foster in the top ten of dozens of applicants across the country.

Dr. Travis Martin, faculty adviser for Alpha Lambda Delta, described the application as “thorough and fair.” Hopefuls submit an application detailing past awards, service to the chapter, extracurricular activities and service and academic performance, as well as two letters of recommendation and two essays. Applications are then scored by a committee of four to five national council members and ranked accordingly. 

“After hearing about her life and goals, I knew (Foster) would be a strong competitor for the Stemler,” said Martin. “Personally, I think she is a great example of why EKU is a school of opportunity.”

Those goals include increasing access to mental health care in her rural hometown. After graduation, Foster hopes to return to Harlan and open a private counseling practice that caters to low-income families. In addition to her membership in Alpha Lambda Delta, Foster is active in the NOVA/TRIO Student Support Services Program and is working to become a peer mentor in a Foundations of Learning Course next semester. In addition to the Stemler award, she has also received a Nova Study Abroad Grant and the First-Year Outstanding Academic Achievement Award.

“I feel happy knowing my hard work pays off,” Foster reflected. “It inspires me to never let up and keep chasing new opportunities.”