For the week of June 2, 1999  thru June 8, 1999  

Hailey mother and son graduate together

Express Staff Writer

Debbie and Richie Foster.

Debbie Foster has been in a heated race with her son Richie. It has been a friendly competition, but not one she was willing to lose.

Debbie wanted to earn her high school diploma before her son, a senior at Wood River High School.

Debbie received her high school equivalency from the College of Southern Idaho last week, winning by a few days.

"School is something I’ve always wanted to finish and I wanted to do it before Richie did," Debbie said.

Debbie grew up in southern California and was the youngest of eight children in her family. While six of her siblings graduated from high school and went on to college, Debbie said she was pressured by her mother to get a job and "just grow up."

She began working several jobs, was married at 18 and soon added child rearing to her list of full-time jobs.

At her parents’ home, Debbie remembers a series of six, large photos picturing her siblings at graduation ceremonies. Underneath them hung an unceremonious, "little, tiny picture" of herself.

That discrepancy got under her skin.

"It became a goal for myself and for my kids," Debbie said. "I wanted to do more with my life."

Richie, who graduates Friday, seems to be accepting defeat gracefully.

"I’m proud of her and I think it’s cool that she wanted to beat me to the line," Richie said. "It takes a lot of motivation to keep going. I know a lot of people who quit and drag behind in life."

Dragging behind is a foreign concept to this mother and son.

While in school, Richie has been a volunteer firefighter with the City of Hailey and is in Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training.

He plans to attend the University of Idaho in the fall to pursue a fire science degree.

Debbie has been employed at Power Engineers for nearly eight years, working her way up from a mail room position to a computer-aided design position, a job she relishes.

Despite long hours at Power Engineers, Debbie found time to study at night for the high-school equivalency test.

CSI offers weekly "study halls" that are designed to help students prepare for the test.

Persistent encouragement—i.e., pestering—from Mary Anderson, the CSI coordinator at the time, paid off for Debbie.

"Mary would call me at work," Debbie said. "I realized I had to take the test to get the lady off my back."

Now that she has her high school equivalency, Debbie plans to move to Boise so she can take college classes there. She will be able to continue working for Power Engineers in the company’s Boise office.

"I like to be knowledgeable, so I’m just going for it," Debbie said.


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