Always an EducatorMar 01, 2023 ● By Lisa Sciortino
by Lisa Sciortino
From a young age, Dr. Pamela Scott-Bracey knew that she wanted to be an educator.
Hailing from a family that boasts several members who are or have been teachers, she recalls as a girl growing up in Mississippi playing school with a cousin in the kindergarten classroom of her aunt.
“While my aunt was wrapping up her day and getting ready to go home, we would take all of the (educational) resources out” and pretend to teach to stuffed animal toys. “That was really my foundation” for a career in education, says Scott-Bracey, an award-winning associate professor who currently teaches a pair of courses at University of North Texas’ Frisco Landing campus, which opened earlier this year.
Her career has come full circle: Scott-Bracey is a UNT alum who earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2011 through the university’s College of Information.
“Now I’m on the other side,” she says. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to come back and serve because UNT was so good to me.”
Scott-Bracey graduated in 2006 from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in business technology education. The following year, she earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Mississippi College. She taught at the middle and high school levels before making the switch to higher education.
During her career, she has won several awards for her work including being named Outstanding University Business Educator of The Year (2013-14, 2014-15) by the Mississippi Business Education Association. In 2017, she was named Regional Outstanding Collegiate Business Teacher of the Year by the Southern Business Education Association.
The following year, Scott-Bracey was presented the Excellence in Higher Education Award by Mississippi Association of Educators and was named one of the Top 50 Leading Women in Business by the Mississippi Business Journal. In 2019, she was designated National Collegiate Business Teacher of the Year by the National Business Education Association.
About the accolades, she says, “God has been good to me. I’ve had a blessed career and I’m a firm believer that it’s only because … I’m not doing this for myself. It’s not self-serving. I’m doing this because I’m meant to help others reach their goals. … I am so honored and so grateful that people do see my efforts and take the time to thank me.”
Making a Difference
Scott-Bracey calls being an educator “the most prestigious career that anyone could ever have. … Everyone has had an educator at some point in their lives, regardless of the level of education, that … has touched your life in some form or fashion. You can be a good teacher and touch someone in a positive manner, or you can be a horrible one and make a negative impact.”
Throughout her teaching career, she says, “I’m always the one that’s trying to meet the needs of a student who really doesn’t even know that have any (needs). It’s all about getting to know your students, getting to know their strengths and their weaknesses, and making sure that you can help them become stronger in areas in which they’re weak.”
“Empathy and compassion will go a long way. I’m all about rigor, but I’m also a human and my students are human, and I think the human component can create bridges that can really help students get over (obstacles) that they may not have the courage to cross if they don’t think that people care. Anyone who is a student in my class … will know that Dr. Bracey cares about them and cares about their future.”
This semester at UNT, Scott-Bracey teaches a course called Managing a 21st Century Career, which she says is designed to help students “hone the professional skills that they learn throughout their bachelor’s degree” by enhancing their resumes, participating in mock job interviews, completing virtual internships and otherwise preparing to head into the workforce.
“We’re making sure that they’re professionally ready for the next level,” she says. Scott-Bracey would certainly know which skills are required since she is also the founder, president and CEO of Urbane Enterprises LLC, a consulting firm that works with individuals, educational institutions, corporations and nonprofits to help them meet performance goals and better serve clients.
Scott-Bracey also currently teaches a course titled Pathways to Civic Engagement in which students study issues that plague communities, such as homelessness and food scarcity, and encourages them to “reflect on their community involvement and sense of responsibility beyond individual pursuits and how they can make a difference locally, nationally and globally.” During the course, they also research a nonprofit organization and raise funds in support of its mission.
“We don’t just want the students to be career ready, we also want them to be good citizens and so that is part of the package that we want to produce here at UNT,” she explains, describing the course as being “very fulfilling … not only for me, but also for the students. I always get them to try to leave seeing something from a different perspective than when they arrived in the course.”
Last semester, Scott-Bracey taught a Problem Analysis course and an accompanying workshop that she says demonstrated to students how experiencing “a problem is not bad. A problem is just something that keeps (businesses and organizations) from reaching a goal. So, the goal should always be to find a solution to whatever issue is at hand.”
As part of the course, students partnered with Samaritan Inn, a McKinney-based homeless program and shelter, and devised “solutions to a few problems that they were experiencing,” which students later presented to the organization’s board of directors. “It was really life-changing for them and myself,” she recalls.
Being a good steward to the community is an important part of conducting business, Scott-Bracey contends.
“A community is only as strong as the relationships that you have in the community, and those relationships stem from not only personal relationships (and) professional relationships, but also the relationship between academia and the business world. It should all be interdependent,” she says.
“The best communities are those in which people work together beyond the scope of the work that they do on a day-to-day basis. If I can see you have a need, if I have something that can help you meet that need, as a good neighbor that’s my duty.”
Frisco, she says, “has always shown to be a great neighborly city, and that’s why I was so happy to get the opportunity to be based at UNT Frisco. I think this is an amazing community and it’s a collaborative community, and that’s why it’s so strong and still growing.”
The university’s staff, she says, works to build and strengthen its relationships with area businesses and their leaders so that students are able to “get some real-world experience. … Those types of partnerships are really going to be the future of UNT, especially at Frisco.
“We have people here focused on those partnerships. It is their duty to go out and meet with different companies, meet with different corporations locally and beyond to see how we can help them meet their needs and how in return they can help meet the needs of our students and possibly become future employers. … It’s our duty to meet the needs of students and make sure they can be successful beyond these doors and these walls. That’s what we’re really striving to do.”
In fact, Scott-Bracey says, that has been the focus of her entire career.
“I’m big on mentoring” students as well as her fellow faculty members, she explains. “I always believe in reaching back and helping people be successful because that’s what happened for me. I know I would not be where I am in my career if it had not been for those who helped me along the way — mentored me, guided me — especially here at the University of North Texas.”
Lisa Sciortino is managing editor of Frisco STYLE Magazine.