History major brings business background to her research
When Jess Foster ’20 withdrew from Furman University in 2011 due to health reasons, she didn’t know if she would ever return.
During her recovery, she began freelance writing to earn some money and get some work experience. After a few years, she was hired by a web design agency in Australia, writing project proposals for potential clients. Over time, she began managing websites for the firm’s clients.
Foster also taught herself how to build websites and started her own web design business, Imagine Higher, four years ago. But her desire for a college degree never went away.
“I didn’t think I’d go back to Furman. I was doing OK without a degree. But as time went on, I felt something was missing in my life, that something was left unfinished,” Foster said. “I missed college, going to classes, and doing all the work, which I found very fulfilling.”
Seven years after she left Furman, Foster re-enrolled. She will graduate with a degree in history in May.
“To have a second chance to get a college degree, I’m so grateful for that,” said Foster. “I’m thankful for Furman allowing me to pick up where I left off. I feel like I realize more the value that Furman brings.”
Foster, a Greenville native, first attended Furman in 2009 after graduating from high school. She said she initially thought she would major in German before deciding on history. Looking back, Foster said she could have benefited from taking some time off from school after high school.
“I used to think you had to go to college right after high school because that’s what they told you, that’s what everybody did. I felt pressured to do that,” Foster said. “I don’t regret going to Furman right away. But now that I’m older, I feel like I’m taking more advantage of the opportunities that are here.”
After she graduates in May, Foster plans to attend graduate school at Clemson University to earn a master’s degree in history. She’ll be a graduate assistant there.
Eventually, she’d like to earn her Ph.D. and work as a professor or a researcher.
For the time being, Foster plans to keep her business going.
“My business is paying the bills right now,” she said.
Foster said that her degree in history meshes well with her experience in business. After all, she said, a history major teaches you how to articulate your ideas.
“History majors do a lot of writing. Being able to write well is a skill that applies to a lot of different jobs, including web design,” she said. “When I am writing a project proposal for a potential client, I need to communicate to them how I will help them meet their business goals.”
In the meantime, Foster’s academic focus has been European history, with a particular emphasis on the Holocaust. She has worked as a student assistant in Furman’s the Special Collections and Archives. During a Summer Research and Creative Fellowship with that department, she investigated the campaign strategies of Carroll A. Campbell Jr. and Max Heller during the 1978 congressional election. Her paper will be published in the Furman Humanities Review.
“I never thought I’d be back here,” she said of re-enrolling at Furman. “But I am so happy I am.”