Purdue Global couple celebrates graduation milestone together
James and Tracy Ly Scott helped each other complete college goals
It’s rare to see graduates holding hands as they cross the commencement stage. But when they’ve been married for 8 years, it makes perfect sense. That’s the case for the Scotts, who attended and graduated from Purdue Global at the same time, while simultaneously balancing their careers and family.
James helped his wife juggle work, parenting and school obligations as she worked toward a bachelor’s degree in health science. Meanwhile, Tracy did the same for her husband as he pursued an accounting degree.
So, it was fitting that at Purdue Global’s Aug. 13 commencement in Washington, D.C., the Scotts crossed the stage together to accept their diplomas.
“It’s the cherry on top,” Tracy says. “For both of us, we would not have been able to get to this point without each other, so being able to walk with my husband is awesome. It couldn’t be better than that.”
We would not have been able to get to this point without each other, so being able to walk with my husband is awesome. It couldn’t be better than that.Tracy Ly Scott
Purdue Global BS health science ’22
James agrees, noting that he was immediately on board when Purdue Global’s graduation team informed Tracy that it was an option.
“I was like, ‘Let’s do it! That sounds so cool,’” he says. “Getting to share that moment together is the coolest part out of all of this.”
Graduation day was the end of one challenging journey and the beginning of another for the couple. Both new graduates plan to enroll in master’s degree programs through Purdue Global – an opportunity that neither likely imagined just a few years ago.
Tracy nearly dropped out of high school when she got pregnant at age 16. However, she stuck it out and graduated. Afterward, she earned credits at a community college and Purdue Global to complete an associate degree in 2019. That qualified Tracy, an active-duty hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy, for a promotion into a supervisory position in her health clinic at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
A former Army Reservist, James also made a couple of attempts at a college education before finding a perfect fit – both professionally and in his degree program – at Purdue Global. He had never considered becoming an accountant before taking a personality assessment several years back that indicated it would suit his analytical nature and reserved personality.
“Accounting was my No. 1 match,” says James, who has worked at an accounting firm for most of the last year and wants to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam after completing a master’s degree in accounting. “I said, ‘You know what? That does seem like it would match.’ I gave it a shot and, so far, I’m still loving it.”
As with so many adult learners, finding time for their studies was difficult for the Scotts between full-time jobs and parental obligations with son Damien, 11, and daughter Jocelyn, 3.
They believe it helped that they attended the same online university. Their mutual understanding of Purdue Global’s weekly routine helped them juggle coursework and seminar schedules.
“We’d trade off days with parenting responsibilities and school so we could get everything done,” Tracy says. “We were sharing the evenings because that was the only time we could do schoolwork and seminars. And you spend a lot of late nights trying to catch up on homework.”
According to James, all of those late nights, all of the cooperation and all of the sacrifices made reaching the finish line feel all the more satisfying.
“You have work all day, and you come home and want to make sure the kids are fed. You’re spending time with them and squeezing in homework in the little bit of free time you have,” he says. “But I think it makes it that much more rewarding in a sense, too, because it’s something that we both wanted and we really had to work for. It feels good to see it pay off in that way.”
The flexibility of Purdue Global’s online platform made it possible for the Scotts to fit schoolwork around their work and home schedules. Tracy noted that she could attend seminars from anywhere, whether on her smartphone during a power outage or even in a hospital room while in labor with Jocelyn.
That’s right, Tracy not only attended a class seminar, but she also wrote a paper while waiting for Jocelyn to arrive.
“I was bouncing on the ball and writing on my laptop and the nurse would come in and ask, ‘What are you doing?’ Tracy recalls with a laugh. “I said, ‘My homework. Writing a paper for class.’”
The moments before a new baby arrives can be unnerving for any couple, but James actually found it calming that his wife was able to use that time to complete some classwork.
“You’re worried that everything’s going to go right, so it was something to distract yourself with,” he says. “I don’t know if that’s how she interpreted it, but I saw her sitting there focused, so if she’s calm and focused, that helped me be calm and focused.”
Soon thereafter, Jocelyn officially joined the family. Like most parents, her mom and dad experienced more late nights and new-baby stress. But they never lost sight of their degree goals.
“We were able to balance it all very well,” Tracy says. “That’s why I kept coming back to Purdue Global. With work and home life, it just worked very well for us. We could still obtain our education and get what we needed.”
Graduation day was truly a special event, not just for the Scotts, but for their friends and family – nearly two dozen of whom attended the commencement ceremony.
Tracy’s mom flew in all the way from California to celebrate an accomplishment that Tracy easily could have given up on if not for assistance from her husband and an online platform that helped her juggle her many responsibilities.
“It was a big occasion, especially for us, because of my life history,” Tracy says. “It’s unbelievable. I didn’t think I would get to this point given the fact that I wanted to quit high school after I found out I was pregnant at 16. It took us this long, and we had all these obstacles, but we made it.” Not only did they make it, but Tracy and James crossed the stage together – small steps that signified a giant achievement on their path to success.
I didn’t think I would get to this point given the fact that I wanted to quit high school after I found out I was pregnant at 16. It took us this long, and we had all of these obstacles, but we made it.Tracy Ly Scott Purdue Global BS health science ’22
Learn more about Purdue Global.