February 11, 2014
PEOSTA—Among the nation’s star-gazing youth and their diverse career ambitions, sometimes it seems that professional success requires being the next LeBron James, a breakout reality television or music star, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or a pioneer in new computer apps – that these are the true dream jobs.
Felicia Fischer’s dream is to become an attorney. The May 2013 Associate of Arts Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) graduate and current Loras College student believes instead that entering the legal profession is the successful method to effect change. Her career goal is borne of a deep motivation to make a difference in the world and is a matter of indebtedness to an attorney who saved her family’s farm, she says.
“Becoming an attorney is not something most kids dream about wanting to be. An attorney, in most people’s eyes, is not a meaningful job; but for me, an attorney was someone who simply saved my family and my childhood,” Felicia explains.
Felicia’s story greatly influenced her career plans. When she was 11-years-old, a contractor attempted to buy her family’s farm to break ground on a residential housing development. Her parents – Nancy and Thomas Fischer of Sherrill – refused to sell the property and were sued by the contractor. That’s when the family’s futures became intertwined with the legal business and Felicia’s interest in law blossomed.
“After seven years of court dates, going to the Iowa Supreme Court twice and fighting to save our family farm, my parents finally won the lawsuit and could keep our farm,” Felicia recalls. “Our farm contains memories that are priceless and something my parents had always dreamed to pass on to my siblings and me. That is exactly why I want to be an attorney someday: I don’t ever want another family to suffer the same way mine did, and, as an attorney, I will do everything in my power to protect families.”
Scholarships provided the assistance Felicia needed to enroll at NICC after the legal fight that her parents endured had taken a tremendous toll financially. Her NICC experience, both academically and socially, taught enduring lessons about the diversity of the world, the complexity of the problems people face every day and how a college education inspires in people the importance of making a difference in the community.
“My experience at NICC was one unlike anything I imagined, and the one thing that I loved at NICC, compared to any other school I have attended so far, is its diversity. My classes were full of students and instructors who were all different ages with different backgrounds and experiences, which made all of my classes very interesting,” she says. “I was able to make many new friends through listening, talking and learning about other students’ differences, experiences and struggles.”
The support of NICC instructors, tutors, counselors and peers helped to guide Felicia’s career objective of entering the legal profession.
“When I started at NICC, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer someday, but I had no idea how to get there. At the Peosta campus, I found professors, advisors and tutors in the Learning Center who inspired me. They taught me that anything I want to achieve in my life is my responsibility,” Felicia says.
After four consecutive semesters on the dean’s list at NICC, the graduate transferred to Loras College in Dubuque and received the Loras Merit Award for her academic achievements. An Iowa Tuition Grant also helps to offset financial expenses as she works toward a bachelor’s degree in both accounting and psychology.
“My studies at Loras College are going great. My professors are extremely helpful and are continuously pushing me to be better,” she adds. In her first semester at Loras last fall, she earned dean’s list honors.
Of all of the career possibilities available then, including ones that pay well and require fewer years of formal education, why become an attorney? For Felicia, several major issues in the community, the U.S. and the world clamor for young students to meet challenges and make a difference.
“As a future law student and attorney, I would like to make an impact on land and animal conservation and the issues that deal with mental illness. In terms of conservation, people forget that we only have one world, and it’s a world we need to protect. I want to preserve our planet, and I feel as a lawyer I can be a voice that stands against the people and corporations that have a lot of money and are manipulating the laws.”
Patients who struggle with mental illnesses and not receiving the care they need also resonate for the NICC alumna and student. “I’m also passionate about mental illness issues. Many of the programs and centers we have that care for people with mental illnesses are losing their funding and being shut down. Along with this, patients are losing the people willing to defend them. I hope to find justice and help for those who suffer from mental illnesses, find better care for them and get them back on their feet,” she said.
Her parents Nancy and Thomas Fischer, along with Felicia and her two sisters and brother, live on the dairy farm her family fought to keep, which has been owned by the Fischer family since 1965.
Many students and graduates, such as Felicia Fischer, benefit from transfer agreements between NICC and other four-year colleges and universities that offer options for graduates to transfer their NICC credits and earn a baccalaureate degree. For more information, visit www.nicc.edu/transfer.