Paul Scott '88: Back to the 'Burg| September 16, 2010
When Paul Scott ’88 first came to Williamsburg as a visiting high school student, he swore he’d never come back. Over 20 years later, Scott can call himself a graduate of the College of William and Mary, a Williamsburg resident, and a Williamsburg businessman.
Scott’s dad was a Navy pilot, and his family followed the job, moving from place to place and never staying more than two years in any one location. When applying to colleges, Scott knew he wanted to attend a smaller school, and one that was relatively close to his current home of Virginia Beach, Va., and the ocean. His high school record had suffered a bit due to his family’s frequent relocations, and Scott was a little skeptical about his admission to William and Mary, but he applied anyway. An interview with a William and Mary alumnus encouraged Scott immensely — he said it helped him with things he “couldn’t put on the application,” like the fly-fishing fly-tying business he had started himself.
When Scott entered William and Mary as a freshman, he thought he wanted to study business. He explained that he had this “idea that you had to come here and leave here with a marketable, moneymaking skill.” Though he ended up majoring in economics, he minored in psychology and studied philosophy extensively as well. He learned from other William and Mary students that “you’re much better off pursuing what you want to do,” and tried to keep this in mind as an undergraduate.
Scott’s extracurricular life kept him very busy as well, and after spending his life on the go, staying in one place for more than two years was a welcome part of college life. He did note, however, that it took him “a while to get used to that many people around [him] all the time.” Scott pledged the Sigma Chi fraternity as a sophomore and took on the role of Pledge Trainer. This group also provided him many opportunities for service work — he and his fraternity brothers helped community members with housework and repairs, and took on a volunteer project every semester. He also attended several leadership workshops, including one in Canada.
Unfortunately, Scott faced tragedy during his final year of his undergraduate career — three of his good friends passed away during Scott’s senior year at William and Mary. These deaths reminded Scott that “life was short and precious” and that he “wasn’t going to spend it doing anything [he] wasn’t happy doing.” With that commitment in mind, he decided to take an opportunity to become a fly-fishing guide and instructor in Roanoke upon graduating. He also spent two years working in a psychiatric hospital for children, which he described as “interesting work” and “fascinating.” Eventually, he decided to apply to graduate school and ended up getting his master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Radford University.
When he graduated, he started thinking more about finding a permanent job and lifestyle, but only as a means of supporting his motto, which was “to live and make a living.” In order to gain some experience, Scott began to volunteer in the children’s unit of a women’s shelter, where he provided therapy to children whose mothers were being domestically abused. A lot of the children Scott worked with had been sexually assaulted, and were starting to reactively abuse others as well. There was not a lot of information or training involving this matter at the time, so Scott sought out information at conferences and through other sources, and he ended up becoming the resident expert on the matter. This led him to a wilderness camp for sexual offenders in Georgia, and then to a treatment center in Portsmouth, Va. Though Scott enjoyed helping people at these institutions, he came to realize that he “didn’t want to do it for the rest of his life.”
After several other related jobs in the Hampton Roads area, Scott landed his current job at Child Development Resources, Inc. (CDR) in Williamsburg. CDR is a group that provides educational and therapy services to parents and children who are struggling with family life. As executive director, he is responsible for nearly all of the functions of CDR, which involves a lot of internal management and decision making. He also interacts a lot with the community through fundraising and presenting to civic groups. William and Mary is involved with CDR as well — the Community Psychology class at the College visits CDR to learn about the organization and see the therapy techniques firsthand. As Scott says, CDR is a “unique model” and that “kids are interested in seeing it because it works.” Class visits are not the only connection that CDR has with the College, though — many of CDR’s staff members are William and Mary alumni, including Lisa Rogers Thomas ’81, C.A.S.E. ’86; Lynn DameronWolfe ’96; Betsy Calvo Anderson ’70; Hunter Creech ’91; Tracy Gardener Creech ’90; and Doug Powell ’90. In addition, the new School of Education will provide more “tremendous opportunities” for College-CDR relations.
Scott says that his favorite parts of working at CDR are getting to “interact with parents and find out how [CDR’s] services have benefitted them” and seeing the progress the children make. Though CDR has suffered from budget cuts that Scott says "are sometimes easy to get bogged down in,” he explains that when he talks to the parents and families he’s helped, he realizes he has to continue to push through it and “figure it out.”
Though his job is a significant part of his life, Scott finds time to take advantage of his home in Williamsburg. He loves being in “the ’Burg” and attends William and Mary football and basketball games frequently. He also enjoys the scenery in the area through photography and kayaking. With the great support from the CDR board and the Williamsburg community, Scott sees himself continuing with CDR for quite some time. As he points out, “With the College and the town there’s nothing you can’t do here.”