Lacey Foster

COM graduate aims to help women in PTEC

With her catchphrase “from stilettos to steel toes,” Lacey Foster doesn’t seem a like stereotypical process technology graduate.

Before enrolling in the College of the Mainland program, Foster worked as an administrative assistant and in marketing – and owned more than 100 pairs of heels.

Motivated to find a job with more stability since marketing is often the first branch sacrificed in cutbacks, she decided to pursue process technology.

“We pass by these plants all day every day,” the 2013 graduate said. “It caught my interest. I said, ‘I’m going to do it,’ and I did it.”

While at COM, she landed an internship at LyondellBasell, which after graduation became a job offer that she accepted. She loved the experience, though working sometimes 60 hours a week while taking five classes wasn’t easy.

“I don’t know how I did it, but I did. I enjoyed every bit of it,” she said. “They treated me like a full-time employee with the same respect. I got to see a lot of things veterans haven’t experienced.”

As president of the COM PTEC club, she also coordinated a panel for female process technology students to ask questions of female operators, which helped her mentally prepare for a job in a male-dominated field.

“I am the only female on my shift, which is cool that I get the whole restroom to myself,” she joked.

Foster plans to stay in touch with her friends from the program and involved with the club. She especially wants to return and share with other women in the program about her experiences.

She feels that her classes at COM, especially one in which students worked on the glycol-separation unit, prepared her for the real world of plant operations.

“You’re having hands-on experience with the unit in school,” she added. “COM has an excellent reputation for graduating very knowledgeable people. The teachers can tell you that they’ve lived it, they’ve experienced it.”

A self-described people person who loved marketing, the shift from a business suit to blue suit may seem drastic, but to Foster it’s still about interacting with co-workers.

“Everybody gets frustrated, but at the end of the day, you’re family,” she said. “You form a very tight bond. You help each other out. You do everything you can to make sure everybody’s safe.”

Though challenging, she knows she made the right decision.

"The salary is great,” she noted. “It was excellent career choice for me. I love what I do.”