Beating the Odds: UAFS Alumna, Morgan Scott
When Morgan Scott arrived at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, the thought
of completing a degree, let alone going on to complete a graduate degree, felt practically
Scott was a young mom living in Tampa Bay, Florida. Her dad lived in Van Buren and had convinced her to move to the area to have help with the baby and to continue her education.
“I wasn’t college ready, to be totally honest,” admitted Scott. “Academically, I didn’t have a good path when I was in high school, so when I started at UAFS, I was not ready to be there, and I was not successful.”
As a young mom working full-time, she would take a few classes but says she didn’t know her direction. “I did well in the social sciences, but I was very humbled by how much help I needed in other classes,” Scott said.
Being a non-traditional student, Scott struggled to balance life and school. However, she credits the size of UAFS as a reason for eventually finding success in the classroom. The intimate campus setting made it easier to know professors and advisors by first name, which paid off as time passed.
But as she likes to say, “time passes anyway” - life and motherhood had plans for Scott.
Closing in on completing her bachelor’s degree, Scott and her husband decided to grow their family.
“I had a baby in 2013 and 2014,” she laughed. “Now, I was a mom of three, and I was like, ‘All right, I’ve got to do this.’”
With about 50 credits remaining and three children for whom she wanted to set an example, Scott buckled down and returned to UAFS full-time to complete her degree.
“There was a statistic that I kept in my mind, and it was less than 2% of teenage mothers graduate college by the age of 30,” she said. “I was bound and determined to graduate before 30.”
And she did.
“I think I ended up graduating at 28-and-a-half,” Scott chuckled.
A study from shortly before Scott started at UAFS showed young moms’ challenges in going to college. Since then, that statistic has unfortunately remained consistent as the cost of education and living has increased.
However, Scott’s determination to keep pushing herself and not let her challenges discourage her ensured she was part of that less than 2%.
“I didn’t want to be a statistic,” she said.
At the time of her graduation from UAFS, the university did not offer a bachelor’s degree in social work, so Scott graduated with a bachelor’s in organizational leadership. But she didn’t let that desire to help others fade away. Scott’s interest in social work, combined with her time and journey at UAFS, has turned into a career in social work, which meant her education didn’t end at UAFS.
Scott enrolled in the University of Tennessee at Knoxville online in 2019. After two years of coursework and internships, she graduated again and is now a licensed master social worker. But her journey still isn’t over.
The young mom-turned-non-traditional student has continued to keep history from defining her path and career success. Today, she is on track to become a licensed clinical social worker, allowing her to provide therapy independently under her own license.
Scott is now the director of staff development for Pro Care Innovations, a startup healthcare tech company established in Fort Smith. Her connection to UAFS continues today. Every year, she returns to campus for the Health Careers Job Fair, looking for applicants from her alma mater.
In her free time, Scott and her husband run a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, The Blue Mountain Project. The pair give back to her husband’s childhood home and the surrounding area by providing clothing and school supplies to students in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica.
Scott’s success has shown that hard work can overcome obstacles. As she learned at UAFS, finding the right fit can make all the difference.
“It’s the campus size; it’s perfect. It’s the affordability factor. It’s just a great place to grow and learn,” Scott said. “UAFS allowed me to be successful, and I could return to class and not feel judged. It’s a welcoming environment where both traditional and non-traditional students can be successful and coexist.”
- College of Business and Industry
- Non-traditional Students
- Organizational Leadership