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Giovanna "Gigi" Scott

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Gigi Scott, confident and accomplished, laughs about the day she went to enroll at Howard College.

Having been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years, and not having been a great student prior to that, Scott was overwhelmed and petrified as an admissions clerk asked how she could help her. Scott’s husband finally stepped in: “My wife wants to sign up for college.”

Today, Scott is a mere nine A’s from graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and a communication degree from Angelo State University. Additionally, she is a mother to three daughters, an active community volunteer, and student manager of Fostering Ram Success, a program that provides support to students who were foster children.

“You make time for the things that are important to you, and you make excuses for the things that are not,” Scott said. “If you see me doing something, it’s because I made time to do it.”

A former foster mother, Scott likens her role with Fostering Ram Success to a life adviser for foster students: “We come alongside and help guide them.” As a first-generation and non-traditional student, Scott can relate to how bewildering a college campus is to her young charges.

“I feel like their success is my success,” she said. “If they’re struggling, I’m not doing the best I can in my job. When I see them succeed, I celebrate with them. I want to be there at their graduation cheering them on.”

Scott and her husband spent three years as foster parents, receiving their first children five days after she turned 21. The experience “opened my eyes to what happens in the world,” she said. “You never know where these students come from, what their past has been. I wanted to be a bright beacon in their life.”

The best thing to come from foster parenting was the adoption of their daughter Liana, who’s now a teen.

“People say, ‘She’s so blessed to have you guys,’” Scott said. “I don’t see it that way. I see it as I’m so blessed to have her.”

Liana nominated her mother for the 20 Under 40 honor, expressing gratitude that her mom exposes her to volunteer service. Their favorite charitable act involves serving lunch together on Valentine’s Day at the Daily Bread Soup Lunch program.

“I want her to see, ‘It’s not about you,’” Scott said. “There’s so much of a bigger picture out there. I want her to see she can serve others.”

That’s why Liana calls her mother a “natural-born leader.” Scott is less sure about her leadership being natural. She credits mentors the past five years for giving her greater confidence in her leadership, which she describes as a “we attitude” versus a “me attitude.”

“It’s important to surround yourself with mentors who see something in you that you can’t,” Scott said. “But while they’re in your corner, they’re not the ones taking the hits. You’ve got to have the will and the want-to to get it done.”