Changing Lives: Andrea Scott
Transformed by education
Each weekend spent with her family reminds Andrea Scott how all the struggle was worth it. The promise of those weekends is what sustained her through seven years as a Denny’s server. It was her focus as she worked sometimes seven days a week and all holidays while attending college part time to escape restaurant work for a corporate finance career.
Shortly after Scott graduated from high school in the early 1980s, her family moved to Texas from Michigan and she began working in restaurants.
“I’d lost my social ties when we moved, and I didn’t know anything about Texas colleges,” she said. “So I decided it was time to go to work.”
She toiled in restaurants throughout the Metroplex, serving tables, bartending, catering, even doing a short stint as an office manager. The money was good. But she knew there must be something better—something with benefits, and with fewer hours.
“I realized there wouldn’t be a pot of gold at the end of the waitressing rainbow,” she said.
While working in downtown Fort Worth’s Americana Hotel (now the Renaissance Worthington) restaurant, Andrea met her future husband, chef Harold Scott, who became a huge influence in her pursuit of a better life. When he found new opportunities in restaurant work, he invited her to join his team.
In 1986, Andrea enrolled in the UTA College of Business Administration but didn’t finish her degree in the accustomed time. It would be another 10 years before she could pursue her dream again.
Harold and Andrea married in 1990, and they continued restaurant work. After becoming a mother, Andrea realized that she’d never have enough quality time with her children until she quit the restaurant business. Her best way out, she decided, was to finish college.
She pushed hard from 1996 to 2002 to finalize her degree, often struggling with a full-time job, two children and up to 12 hours of class work each semester. She credits the business college faculty and her husband for keeping her on track.
“I loved UTA and got attached to some of the professors, who I still keep in touch with,” she said. “You can get an education at any college, but the professors at UTA were so supportive. You can’t find that just anywhere.”
One of her favorites was marketing Associate Professor Mark Peterson.
“Andrea represents some of the very best of what UTA is about. This is a place where you can transform yourself,” Dr. Peterson said. “Her years at Denny’s made her a student of others’ behavior. If she wanted a sales career, she could become a legend.”
Scott, 42, didn’t choose sales, but her life experience and bachelor’s degree in business finance landed her a job three months after graduation when Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. hired her as a budget analyst.
She loves bringing home the bacon instead of serving it alongside eggs and pancakes on a Denny’s breakfast platter.
Her husband deserves much of the credit, she says. He worked full time, cooked, cleaned and cared for their children while she worked, attended class and studied in the library. It was hard on their relationship, she said, but they did it together.
“I am so proud of her,” Harold said. “It was rough on her—on us at times—but she’s where she wants to be now, and her future is brighter. It changed her attitude so much. It’s as if a big burden has been lifted off of her shoulders.”
— Kim Pewitt-Jones