On top of her game
Stasia Foster always dreamed of going to college to dance. A dancer since the age of 3, it was always just a given. When it came time to look at colleges, the Austin, Texas, native knew she wanted to leave her home state.
But Foster didn’t count on it being hard to find a school that felt like home when she started her search. UA was in the running, but with classical ballet being a priority in UA’s dance program, she didn’t think that was for her.
“It was hard to find a school I loved and felt comfortable at,” she said. “I wanted to be in a big city or big college town. I wanted to see something new. I had grown up coming to Alabama, but was actually watching the 2013 Iron Bowl game rooting for the wrong team.”
Foster decided to give UA a chance, and auditioned for the Crimson Cabaret dance team before her freshman year. She made it to the final round before being cut. What could have put her on the path of looking for another college to call home had just the opposite effect.
“I had a change of heart,” Foster said. “And I’m so glad I did. It turns out, The University of Alabama actually is my place.”
Foster enrolled at UA for the Fall 2014 semester, happy but unsure of where she fit at her new home away from home.
“I got here and had no idea about so many things,” she said. “I didn’t grow up going to football games. And I was definitely the girl who didn’t want to give up her high school resume during my freshman year.”
Foster — a perpetually over-involved high school student — knew she needed to make some connections on campus, and signed up to take part in the Alabama Panhellenic Association’s fall formal sorority recruitment as a freshman.
She fell in love with the Alpha Chi Omega chapter during recruitment, and received a bid to become a member.
“I got here and didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to get plugged in, so I went through recruitment,” Foster said. “It was so awesome. I loved Alpha Chi throughout the process, and knew that’s exactly what I wanted to be a part of.”
As she found her home in Alpha Chi, Foster began to find her academic niche as well. She began asking questions and picking the brains of her older Alpha Chi sisters, along with her resident advisor, about their studies. She realized that her declared major of telecommunication and film wasn’t quite the route she wanted to take. Foster made a switch in UA’s College of Communication & Information Sciences to study public relations with a focus on sports and entertainment.
At the end of her freshman year, Foster applied to be a member of UA’s Student Recruitment Team, because older Alpha Chis told her, “Do everything” and pushed her to get more involved. UA’s SRT members serve as hosts to prospective students and student athletes through tours, lunches, info sessions, gameday activities and more. Earning a spot on the team gave Foster a better idea of how large-scale athletics operations work and continued to reaffirm that she had chosen a path for her studies that she would love as a career.
When she rolled off the SRT after one year, it wasn’t because she had had her fill. Foster earned a job as a recruiting operations assistant within UA’s Athletics Department. While her gameday duties still looked much the same, during the week she switched her focus to Alabama Football’s recruiting operations.
“I felt like I’d gotten my feet wet on the Student Recruitment Team and could be an asset, so I went for it,” Foster said. “I really got a taste of working for the Alabama Football program. I can say that I’m so excited I got to see two sides of it, because that’s what I needed to know I needed more of a background in operations. We stay in the background and make adjustments to make sure everything is running smoothly. We are a small army.”
Foster said she dreams of a job working in event operations at Madison Square Garden, and her experiences with Alabama Football will help her get there.
“I love the entertainment and the sports side of operations,” she said. “I kind of want it all — and I’m okay with that.”
As Foster transitioned to her first year as a recruiting operations assistant, she expanded her on-campus involvement as a junior by serving as the SGA Homecoming director of choreography. She had previously served on the Homecoming rules and regulations committee, and knew she’d love to stay involved with it.
Dr. Rosalind Moore-Miller, the Homecoming advisor and director of Student Involvement at UA, knew exactly where to put Foster when they discussed her interests.
“She told me ‘You love dance, I can’t put you anywhere else,’” Foster said. “And doing it was great. “You really do learn how to navigate as a leader around the entire campus. It was about all of UA, not just one of my organizations.”
As the Fall 2016 semester came to a close, Foster made history at The University of Alabama. On Oct. 5, 2016, she was elected president of Alpha Chi Omega. Among her sisters, there was no discussion of why Foster was unique. She had served the chapter well as vice president for public relations and marketing the previous year. Among those who knew Foster’s reputation and resume, there was no surprise.
But for the first time, a National Panhellenic Conference sorority that participates in formal recruitment at The University of Alabama had selected an African-American woman to lead their chapter. Foster is the second-ever African-American woman selected to lead her APA chapter, following Hannah Patterson’s election as chapter president for Sigma Delta Tau in 2013.
“I’m honored, because I know the responsibility it takes,” Foster said. “And for the first time, I know this is where I’m supposed to be. I feel completely comfortable in this leadership position. I didn’t expect to be the first to do anything. I was just trying to help out where I’m needed.
“A lot of people come here to UA and say ‘this is what I want to do.” People go through these four years knowing what they want. That wasn’t me. I never knew that this was even available to me.”
While Foster said her election was something that just happened, those who have worked with her feel differently.
“Stasia is truly loved by everyone in the chapter. It was very apparent in the election process that she was the woman our chapter felt was best equipped to lead us through the 2017 year,” said Caroline Fulmer, Alpha Chi Omega’s advisor and an assistant professor of consumer sciences. “While I do not think she joined Alpha Chi Omega planning to take the helm as the president, each step she took just seemed to keep her on that path.”
For Foster, it is the behind the scenes work that keeps her going — even while her election has landed her in the spotlight as a leader.
“Being the first and being able to represent an organization that has changed my life, I can only hope that I can make as big of an impact on someone else’s life as they made on my life,” Foster said.
This story was originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Capstone Magazine, the official magazine of UA’s Division of Student Life. Check out Capstone Magazine online.