Steve Scott interviewed Fidel Castro in Havana. He reported on world-shaking events like the aftermath of 9/11. Over his four decades in radio broadcasting, he interviewed countless powerful people. Now, he is the morning anchor for WCBS Newsradio 880 in New York City.
What he hadn’t done was complete college.
“It didn’t slow me down, but it gnawed at me a little,” says Scott, ’20 Broadcast Journalism. While still a San José State senior, a few credits shy of graduating, he got the full-time radio job he’d dreamed of. Then his life—and, before long, his ultimately very successful career—shelved those plans.
After moving to Chicago, then to New York City, his radio home for the past 14 years, Scott occasionally explored pursuing completion of the degree he started back in the fall of 1979. But it wasn’t until 2019—40 years after the 17-year-old teenager from Stockton had set foot on campus—that he finally vowed to finish what he started. “Maybe it was that round number,” he says, laughing.
But, then, how to begin? “In my job, I contact people directly. If I want to talk with a senator, I call,” he explains. So Scott sent a “cold call email” to SJSU President Mary A. Papazian, explaining his “tale of woe” and his desire to complete his bachelor’s degree. He hoped she’d pass his request along to the right people.
“Lo and behold,” he says, “She wrote me back. That made me sit up straight!”
In May 2020, Scott graduated. Due to COVID-19, he missed out on the traditional in-person ceremonial recognition, along with the rest of the class of 2020. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work out,” he says. “I fully intended to come, with my wife and family, and people we invited into town. After 40 years, I was definitely going to walk across that stage!” Scott says he would have enjoyed participating with his classmates. “Let’s be honest: I’m older than their parents! It would have been fun to be in that environment.”
Yet his newly framed diploma, now hanging on his wall, isn’t tarnished by that loss. “It really was emotional for me when it came in the mail,” he says. “My hands were shaking. My wife had to start opening it. I’m an old, grizzled guy, but my eyes got moist.”
Today his voice brings the day’s news to millions in the number one media market in the country. Scott says his career “couldn’t have worked out better.” At this point, a degree won’t be opening any doors he can’t open on his own.
But Scott never liked not finishing what he’d started. “It was the one big thing always hanging over me,” he says.
“The moral of my story that I would pass along to others,” says Scott, “is that your dream doesn’t have to have an expiration date. If you follow through, it’s not too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do. If you have unfinished business, you can do it.”