Tenacity and a Passion for the Environment Lead to Second Chance at College Degree: Scott Hancock, '20

Dec. 14, 2020

Scott Hancock2.jpeg

Scott Hancock
Scott Hancock

Scott Hancock, who is graduating with a B.S. in Geography and a minor in Sustainable Built Environments, is the recipient of the SBS Tenacity Award for winter 2020. This award recognizes a graduating senior in the College of SBS who has persevered in the face of significant adversity to earn his or her university degree.  

“Five years ago, Scott dropped out of the University of Arizona with little prospect of completing his degree. He was heavily in debt for tuition and had lost his sense of academic direction,” wrote Margaret Wilder, Jason Jurjevich, and Lise Nelson, all faculty in the School of Geography, Development & Environment, in their nominating letter. “Now, Scott has become an outstanding student academically.”

After earning his associate’s degree at Pima Community College in 2015, Scott transferred to the University of Arizona. However, he experienced significant financial, relationship, and mental health stresses. He found he could not continue with classes and dropped out.

One of his jobs after he left UArizona was as a water educator for Arizona Project WET, and for three years, Scott taught children in local schools about water stewardship and environmental conservation.

The Project WET job became a guidepost to Scott’s future career direction. When he had saved enough money, he returned to the University of Arizona and became a Geography major. Weeks before his return to the university, Scott’s dad was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer. (Fortunately, his father has recovered and is now cancer free.)

Scott’s academic success was recently recognized when he was selected for the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) internship, a highly competitive fellowship awarded to students studying pressing climate and environmental issues that require collaborative approaches to problem solving.

Scott’s academic successes are even more noteworthy considering that he has continued to work full-time to fund his education.

“Scott has persevered along a winding road to the dream of earning his university degree,” wrote the nominating group. “With his strong preparation in geography and sustainable and built environments, his interests in climate change adaptation and public transit innovation, Scott has every promise of making a significant contribution to his fields of endeavor in the near future.”

Scott is contemplating going to Presidio Graduate School for its MBA/MPA program in Sustainability this January to expand his knowledge of climate change solutions.

“My time at the UofA is best categorized as exhausting and difficult, but informing,” Scott said. “Every geography class essentially takes a deep dive into global warming at the beginning of the course, which can be an emotionally exhausting topic to consistently cover in depth. That being said, it's arguably the most important topic for modern-day societies to wrap their mind around and truly comprehend. Being able to communicate complex science to the masses is a prerequisite skill to solving the issues surrounding humanity's future. I've been so grateful to hone these skills and more during my time earning my undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona.”