When Wayne Foley got laid off from his dream job in 2009, he had no idea the hardship would really be a blessing that would dramatically alter the course of his life.
Foley, from Halls Gap near Stanford, dropped out of high school at age 16 and started working. At that time, he didn’t really have a desire to continue his education. Now, he’s staring down the path of a college degree with plans to continue learning until he receives his Ph.D.
“I thought working a shift job was it for me,” said Foley. “It’s what my dad did and we did okay…or so I thought. I didn’t realize at the time how rough we lived and how hard it was to make ends meet.”
Foley worked his first job in waste management for the City of Stanford. He performed well and worked his way up. Later, Foley worked as a welder and then as an auto technician at Wal-Mart. In 2008, his dream job came about and he started working at Caterpillar, Inc. in Danville. In April 2009, Foley and his entire shift was laid off.
“I was devastated, even depressed,” Foley said. “My wife told me to go back to school, but I was scared to make the commitment.”
When Foley, now 47, and his wife, Shirley, found out that they were going to lose their house and possessions, he decided that going back to school might be his only option to change his future.
“I called SCC and talked to Melissa Winstead in Student Support Services,” Foley said. “If I’d talked to anyone else that day I probably wouldn’t have enrolled. Melissa helped talk me through everything and then I met Roger Hollars (SCC advisor). Roger walked me over to take the compass test and all I could think was ‘I’m seriously going to college.’”
Foley said that he was overwhelmed and scared when classes started. He didn’t know how to prepare for class or study for exams, but with hard work and by asking for help when he needed it, he was able to finish that semester with a 3.3 grade point average. His second semester he proudly earned a 4.0.
Recently, Foley was given the 2012 Kentucky Association for Developmental Education (KADE) Outstanding Developmental Student award from a two-year Institution. He also serves as an SCC Student Ambassador, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and is a mentor and tutor with Student Support Services, a department at SCC that serves low-income and first-generation students.
“This was a dream for me,” said Foley. “I came to college and was a tutor. To me, that is an accomplishment I am very, very proud of.”
Now, Foley is looking ahead. He plans to enroll at Eastern Kentucky University next fall to pursue his bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After that, he hopes to continue his education and obtain his Ph.D.
“I’ve never made (financial) sacrifices like I’m making now in order to pursue this dream,” said Foley. “I almost feel like I’m living someone else’s life. I’m proud to know it’s mine.”