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How This New Grad Overcame Obstacles to Get His Degree

Daniel shares how he overcame hardships, including losing his home and custody of children, to graduate with honors.

Daniel Foreacre is a husband, a father and a brand-new graduate from Millersville University who now holds a degree in computer science. His proud wife, Jenn Foreacre, attended the ceremony on December 11, snapping photos and posting about her husband’s achievements online. In fact, it was this series of moving Tweets that put us in touch.  

Fresh off the heels of graduation, Daniel Foreacre is now a Ph.D hopeful. He plans to begin his doctorate next fall. The applications have already been sent out and he expects responses sometime this February. 

Earning his undergraduate degree was a significant milestone and personal victory for Daniel Foreacre. He’s overcome a lot of obstacles to arrive at this point in his life. “More than anything else, my graduation from Millersville is evidence that in spite of the mistakes I’ve made and the valleys I’ve walked through, I CAN accomplish what I set my mind to,” he says.  

This isn’t Daniel Foreacre’s first go at college. He graduated with an associate degree in math/computer science from HACC in 2021. And before that, he spent three years working toward his degree in computer science at another university. Unfortunately, Daniel Foreacre was forced to drop out due to serious ongoing health issues he now knows stem from fibromyalgia. After he left school, Daniel Foreacre began working at Burger King where he worked his way up the ladder to general manager. It was there that he met his wife, Jenn Foreacre, and the pair eventually had two children together. 

Jenn and Daniel Foreacre pose for a photo together.

In 2012, Daniel Foreacre lost his job as a Burger King general manager due to the ongoing difficulties of managing fibromyalgia and its complications. “I spent several years as a stay-at-home dad while my wife worked from home, until both the company she worked for laid her off and she began having serious health problems herself,” he explains. “With our income next to nothing, we attempted chapter 13 bankruptcy but failed because we could not afford the payments and our home was repossessed in June 2017.” They couch-surfed and looked for help, but because they didn’t have stable housing, their children were taken into the custody of Lancaster Children & Youth on the day before Thanksgiving. “Things spiraled from there,” shares Daniel Foreacre. “We decided to go to the Water Street Mission.” 

At this point, Daniel and Jenn Foreacre both began to reassess themselves, and they used the resources that Water Street Mission connected them with to get the help they needed. “From the classes and counseling at Water Street, weekly therapy sessions through T.W. Ponessa, and a caseworker at the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation who sent me for a complete neuro-psych eval, I began to learn that I had value separate from the work that I could no longer do,” he shares. The path to recovery and independence was hard work. “It was a slow process of gradually building things back up,” he says. And it started with education. “With the encouragement of my psychologist, I applied and was accepted to HACC. It was the first step in rediscovering myself.” 

That rediscovery led Daniel Foreacre to new places. From there, he got a job as a tutor to pay his bills. “That led to me being able to afford a place to live. Over the next year, I found myself out of the mission in a house and getting custody of our children back,” Daniel Foreacre shares. “Following that came the reunion of living together with my wife again and the significant challenge of learning to break old habits and ways of thinking.”  

A year later, he graduated from HACC and continued his education at Millersville University, culminating in last month’s commencement celebration. “When I started this journey in July of 2018, waiting outside for the bus on a hot summer day to return from my evaluation, I did not know if I would ever achieve this. But here I am, I have the diploma to prove it, and I’m not done yet. There’s so much more I can do with my life.  I don’t know where my path will take me, but I’m going to keep trekking forward as long as I can,” he says. “The path to now has shown me just how important the other people in my life are, from my family and close friends to the social networks I’ve built up in the various departments and organizations I’ve joined. It’s made me realize just how much we need each other and that there is strength in leaning on those supports when necessary. Looking back, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the individuals who have been a part of my journey.” 

Of course, Daniel Foreacre isn’t done just yet. Once he’s accepted to a Ph.D. program and working on creating more accurate models of the brain, he’s going to change the world – at least, that’s the hope. “I want to take my computer science background and the research I’ve done on a neuron model in my honors thesis from MU to help create more accurate models of the brain,” he shares. “I believe this approach will allow us to make major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and potentially solve many of the world’s problems.” 

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