For Dr. Jessica Foster, it’s never too early to start thinking about her NCAA basketball bracket winners. Perhaps it’s because one of her Final 4 picks always includes her alma matter, the University of Kansas Jayhawks.
As a Kansas native and NCAA basketball enthusiast, it may not have been easy moving to Buckeye Nation, but the decision to follow her passion of helping kids was easy, especially helping those in the special needs community at Akron Children’s.
Meet Dr. Foster, Akron Children’s Hospital’s new director of developmental-behavioral pediatrics.
Grew up in: Overland Park, Kan.
Family: Married to Sam with 3 boys, Jackson, Evan and Max.
Favorite childhood toy: I played a lot of Barbie growing up. My best friend had the Barbie Dream House so we’d usually play at her house.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a French fry cooker at McDonalds when I was little. But, when I was in 6th grade, I was deeply influenced by my mom’s decision to go back to school. She became a special education teacher, learned American Sign Language and started a rewarding career as a teacher for the deaf. I think her decision to follow her passion not only shaped the lives of the students she worked with, but also my decision to go into the medical field and help children with special health needs.
Favorite TV show: I love Modern Family and Downton Abbey. I also read a lot of historical fiction books. I love Philippa Gregory books.
First concert: REM
What was your first paying job? TCBY (This Can’t Be Yogurt). I not only worked there, but recruited my brother and sister to work there, too. I can still remember my favorite item, a white chocolate mousse shiver with Oreos. Yum!
What’s your quote to live by? “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you have imagined.”– Henry David Thoreau
Who do you most admire and why? My mom. She’s such an inspiration to me. The way she mothered my siblings and I; the way she made us a close, connected family; and the way she followed her passion and made an amazing career in deaf education. Her dedication and commitment to the students she worked with and her determination to help each student develop the skills needed to live full and happy lives continues to resonate with me today.
What couldn’t you live without? My family. They’re very important to me.
Do you have any hidden talents? I am a former baton twirler. I started in 5th grade with individual competitions then moved on to national and regional competitions. I played the flute in high school band and made a few appearances on the field as a majorette. I even twirled a fire baton at a half time show.
What is your ideal day: I think happiness is rooted in relationships, which is why I like to stay connected to friends, families and work colleagues. These personal connections are what life’s all about.
What is your most treasured possession? My Baby Sara doll – a gift I received from my parents as a very young girl. I loved her to the point where her hair was coming out, an eye was falling out and the buttons were coming undone on her outfit. My mom recently had her restored for me so now she sits pretty on a bookshelf in my bedroom.
What is your greatest indulgence? Having a really nice dinner with dessert and a good coffee afterwards.
What is your greatest achievement? Being a mom.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do? I’ve always wanted to learn to speak Spanish fluently. I volunteer for an organization called Montaña De Luz, a home for kids with HIV in Honduras. I can talk with the kids at a very basic level and sing lots of Christmas carols in Spanish, but I definitely can’t converse the way I’d like to.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s? I wanted to work for an organization that felt the same way I do about caring for kids. Children’s is – from bottom to top, front to back – passionate about taking care of kids and their families. This organization makes sure every child has access to excellent care so he/she can grow to his/her full potential. It feels really good to be a part of the Children’s community.