Ironton native returns to Appalachia to make a difference

Published 10:20 am Thursday, July 30, 2009

Growing up in Appalachia has its drawbacks.

In 2002, nationally 62% of Americans go to college. However, the rate drops to 30% in Appalachia.

Growing up in this environment, John Fisher got a first hand look at what it takes for an Appalachian student to go to college.

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And now, after years of being away from Ohio, Fisher has returned and is ready to make a difference as he takes the director of student services position at Ohio University — Chillicothe.

Fisher lived in Ironton between the ages of 10 and 20, all of which he worked at his father’s gas station, Fisher’s Texaco, on Liberty Ave.

“Even though I didn’t live in Ironton all of my young life, I felt like I was part of the town,” he said.

After getting his undergraduate and graduate degree from Marshall University, Fisher continued on to get his doctorate from Texas A&M University.

Fisher was a first generation college student and finds the experience particularly helpful in assisting Appalachian high schoolers today who are in the same boat he was.

“I want to find new ways to reach out to populations that maybe we’ve missed and open the door of education for them,” he said.

Fisher has contributed all of his success in life to getting an education.

“I’ve come to believe that education has made my life possible,” he said. “I believe in the value and importance of education.”

Fisher said he wanted to implement new plans as well as continuing old plans to increase both enrollment and retention.

“I’m just continuing my mission here of expanding educational opportunity,” he said.

Overall, Fisher has a mission and he is determined to complete it. The key for him, he said, will be to keep students at the forefront of his priorities.

“Students will be an integral part of everything I do,” Fisher said.