Reaching the "Y" in the Road
GOAL Grad Zach Fisher Thankful for Opportunities
BOILING SPRINGS, NC – Like so many adults who return to college to complete a long awaited four-year degree through Gardner-Webb’s Greater Opportunities for Adult Learners (GOAL) program, Zach Fisher was already working in a career-path position. However, in order to advance within the organization and meet personal goals, it would take a combination of motivation, extra time, and the introduction to a new friend before Fisher could achieve his dreams. Today, this YMCA youth director is ecstatic about where he is in life.
Fisher is a native of Springfield, Ill., and now makes his home in North Carolina working for the Chapel Hill-Chatham County YMCA. His role with the Y covers a wide range of responsibilities and programs, including soccer, baseball and basketball. Fisher also manages afterschool programs and serves as a summer camp supervisor.
“I come from a family of educators,” said Fisher. “I always knew that I wanted to work with youth in some capacity. Until I found the YMCA, I had always thought that would be through teaching.”
Fisher added, “When I started working at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA in 2004, I had accumulated many hours of credit at two schools I had attended, but I was nowhere near a degree. So, I threw myself into any opportunity I could find with the Y and worked as a school counselor. This gave me a chance to meet and network with as many people as possible.”
In March of 2010, Fisher attended the Association of YMCA Professionals (AYP) Conference in Black Mountain, N.C., an event centered on providing YMCA professionals an opportunity to explore new ideas, gain inspiration, network, and evaluate personal health priorities. While at the conference, Fisher was introduced to Cam Corder, the CEO of the Cleveland County Family YMCA, Inc., based in the same county of Gardner-Webb University’s main campus.
“During one of the sessions, there was a presentation on the GOAL program. Cam asked for everyone in the room to stand up if they had completed or were currently enrolled in GOAL. About 10 people of all ages stood up. I didn’t feel insecure anymore. I felt empowered because I had finally found the path to complete my degree,” Fisher shared.
Determined to find a way to fit his educational goals into his busy work schedule, he made it a priority to learn more about how to become a full time student through GOAL online classes.
“For two and a half years, GOAL became my goal,” Fisher said. “GOAL became a source of pride through each semester, as my grades kept improving, as did my GPA. GOAL changed my perspective on school. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it in every way.”
Fisher was proud to have his wife, Julia, and daughter Maia, provide extra support along his GOAL journey. They were also in attendance last December when he graduated with a degree in health management. “I will always be grateful to Cam for introducing me to the GOAL program. I also thank Gardner-Webb for offering the program,” he reflected.
The Gardner-Webb University GOAL program seeks to meet the unique needs of students working full-time jobs, while simultaneously seeking advanced education. Students can continue their studies culminating in a baccalaureate degree. Majors include accounting, business administration, business management, computer information systems, healthcare management, nursing, and religious studies. This important mission of Gardner-Webb has been an ongoing effort for 34 years.