by Linda Hass, Published January 22, 2014
The life story of Quatez Scott, an Eastern Michigan University graduate student, may not have had the best beginning, but the resilient 24-year-old has turned the second chapter into a source of inspiration for students and faculty alike.
In some ways, Scott’s life parallels that of Michael Oher of the semi-biographical movie, “The Blind Side.” Both were products of the foster care system and both played football in high school, but Scott’s foster care experiences were much bleaker.
“I didn’t have the best parents in the world and my foster care experiences weren’t much better. I’ve lived some dark days,” says Scott, adding that he stayed in over 20 foster homes throughout Ohio, with the last foster mother predicting he would end up in jail or never make it to age 21.
“As bad as things were, no kid sets out to go to prison or die early. Deep down inside, we all want to be successful,” says Scott, adding he was determined to prove her wrong.
So in high school, the ambitious teen played football, performed in theatre and choir, and worked 30 hours a week. “I thought that’s what anyone in that situation would do,” he says, adding that at 17 years he got his first apartment through an independent living program.
Encouraging role models, including social workers of faith and school administrators, added to the positive momentum. “I reached a point where I got tired of living down to the expectations placed on foster kids. The right people showed me how to love and be loved,” he says. “Now it’s my turn to show others another way.”
The rest, as they say, is history. At Wilmington College, Ohio, where Scott earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts in 2012, he served as student body president, as editor of the student newspaper and as a peer mentor, among extra-curricular activities. After graduation, he worked as a youth leader for the Miami Valley Juvenile Rehab Center in Xenia, Ohio.
In 2013, he enrolled in EMU’s graduate school, inspired by its reputation for a top-notch faculty. “I was looking for a faculty who valued personal interaction and kept their doors open after hours. I found it at Eastern,” says Scott, who is on track to earn a master of arts from EMU’s higher education/student affairs program in 2015.
The feeling is mutual. “Quatez is deeply passionate about his field of study and is always eager to assist those from at-risk or marginalized populations,” says Cheyenne Luzynski, an educational leadership doctoral fellow who had Scott in one of her higher education student affairs classes. “His dynamic and magnetic personality has endeared him to faculty and students alike.”
After graduation, Scott plans to pursue a Ph.D. in the social sciences and eventually work for a diversity and inclusion team at an institution. “I want to help students from various backgrounds collaboratively develop their inner leadership abilities,” he says. “I want to be a positive role model for others, and propel them on their way to success.”