|Scott Green had done quite well for himself without the benefit of a college education. That didn't mean he ever lost his desire to keep learning.
He started college right after he graduated from high school, but decided to leave school a year later to focus on work, with the goal of opening his own business. Green comes "from a line of entrepreneurs," he says: his grandparents had their own café and his parents owned a fan and lighting store. Green wanted a business of his own.
He got married and started a family. He and his wife opened their own plant nursery and built it into a profitable operation. But despite enjoying success professionally, the same thought returned often to his mind.
Go back to school. Finish your education.
So, 15 years after high school, that's exactly what Green did. A lifelong interest in nature and botany led him to UT Arlington, where the Department of Biology offered a bachelor's degree with an emphasis in botany. Green knew he had found the right place, and he threw himself into his studies with all the vigor of a wide-eyed, 18-year-old freshman.
"UT Arlington was a recognized university that was close enough to my home and work, and it offered me a chance to study botany, the field I love," Green said. "It was a perfect fit for me."
Juggling his studies along with a full-time job and a family wasn't easy, but in 1999, Green graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a Botany emphasis. He was the first person in his family to obtain a college degree. He says his time at UT Arlington helped him become more knowledgeable in his chosen field and sparked a love of learning.
"I have a better understanding of the 'why' and 'how' of plant systems, but I also learned valuable business lessons like time management," he said. "Not only did I get my botanical background solidified, but I came away with experiences I will carry with me for the rest of my lifetime."
In May, Green returned to UT Arlington to speak at the College of Science/School of Architecture Spring Commencement ceremony. He told the graduates assembled in College Park Center that a love of learning will take them anywhere they want to go.
"All of the time you've put in, all the efforts and sacrifices you've made, have paid off," he said. "I hope all of you, like me, will take a piece of your UTA experience with you all your lives."
Among the experiences that Green carries with him from his days at UT Arlington are the enthusiasm and fascination he developed for birds and bats.
"I never go anywhere now without my binoculars, because I'm always trying to add to the list of bird species I've seen," Green said. "I was a naturalist-in-the-making from an early age, but I really developed that while I was at UT Arlington."
As for bats, Green used to view the nocturnal creatures the same way many people do - as a nuisance. One of his biology instructors, Loren Ammerman, happened to be a bat expert and did extensive research on their ecology and genetics. Green soon found himself fascinated by the winged mammals. He went on class field trips led by Ammerman to the Central American nation of Costa Rica and Big Bend National Park in West Texas to study them, and his affection for bats continues today.
"Now, I go looking for them, giddy with pleasure," he laughed. "This bat addiction has taken me to many caves in Texas, Costa Rica and elsewhere. I look at Big Bend, where I had been previously many times, with a different eye after being there to study bat life."
Born and raised in Waxahachie, Green developed a love of the outdoors as