In 1990, Joe Fisher knocked on approximately 300 doors in a low-income housing community in Laurel, Md. His message was simple and direct. “I am here to help your kids get into college,” he told those who answered the door.
“I knew I had to stay the course and stay focused on the goal.”
More than 25 years later, his determination has paid off. Fisher, a Catholic University alumnus and head women’s cross country and track and field coach, has helped more than 2,000 low- to moderate-income students from Prince George’s County, Md., go to college with his nonprofit First Generation College Bound.
Fisher focuses on what he calls “attitude management.” He wants to make sure the students in his program have a mindset that college is an opportunity that is open to them if they work for it. Students who have completed his program have gone on to become dentists, ministers, business leaders, lawyers, and a state delegate.
The program targets students whose parents did not attend college and provides them with guidance on when to take standardized tests, how to apply for college and financial aid, and how to prepare for college once they’re accepted. First Generation College Bound also runs a homework club in a low-income housing complex in Prince George’s County.
Fisher says it’s only now that the emotional aspect of his work has caught up to him. “I knew I had to stay the course and stay focused on the goal,” he says. “Now it’s really starting to hit me. Everything is coming full circle from what I started [more than 25 years ago]. To see these kids finish college, get jobs, and achieve their goals is exciting and wonderful.”