Class of ’23: This Student Hit Two Major Goals This Spring – His Degree and His First Book

April 28, 2023 By Rob Seal, rseal@virginia.edu Rob Seal, rseal@virginia.edu

The University of Virginia’s basketball program helped draw Scott Montgomery to UVA, but it wasn’t the team’s games on national TV or its 2019 NCAA title run.

Instead, Montgomery noticed the enthusiasm and reactions of the students and fans around him in John Paul Jones Arena. They cheered for good defense. They celebrated the other team’s shot clock violations. And the crowd went nuts for a good assist. 

“Their camaraderie was really strong – both the team and the fans – and I started to think: If I go back to school, this is the sort of place I’d like to go,” he said.

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Of course, Montgomery wasn’t your typical UVA undergraduate applicant. By the time he attended that game, he was middle-aged father of three, running a successful IT consulting firm, and married almost 20 years to his wife and business partner, Katelyn.

Scott had completed his associate’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College years ago, but dreamed of finishing his bachelor’s degree. At UVA, he found the right path to do so, enrolling as an adult student in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies program, a part-time, online program in UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

“Our school is about creating opportunity for adult learners to further personal and professional journeys,” said Melissa M. Lubin, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

“Scott is a terrific example of a student who took their accomplishments to the next level while pursuing a degree. We’re happy to help celebrate the publication of his book, and I can’t wait to cheer him and our other SCPS graduates on at Final Exercises this year.” 

Scott Montgomery with his book "How Did You Get Here?"

You can pick up a copy of Montgomery’s new book, “How Did You Get Here?” at the UVA Bookstore.

The school’s programs are designed for people just like Montgomery, adult learners looking for online classes that are tailored to people with responsibilities beyond school, such as work and family.

“I saw that there were over a million Virginians who have some college credits but no degree, and I read that President Jim Ryan emphasized reaching those students in his strategic plan,” Montgomery said. “That really resonated with me.”

He entered the program in 2020, and it turned out to be a good move. Students in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies earn a full undergraduate degree from UVA, and in a few weeks, Montgomery will line up with his classmates on Central Grounds to officially become a UVA graduate.

In addition, he’ll walk the Lawn as a published author. Montgomery’s first book, “How Did You Get Here? Lessons of Unconventional Success,” was published by Leaders Press in February. There are copies for sale in the University Bookstore and others permanently housed in the Rotunda.

An Unconventional Path to Success

Montgomery grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and said academics weren’t always his first priority.

“I slacked some in high school, but I made it through,” he said. “I tried the community college route right out of high school, but I found out the hard way that partying and spending money was more fun. I was fortunate, because I was around people who saw I had potential.”

After high school, Montgomery took a job with Verizon, working in sales. He soon realized he had a knack for business.  It wasn’t long before he was promoted to a management position in Northern Virginia. 

Over the next decade, he’d meet his wife, start a family, and build a career for himself. At the age of 29, he chose a corporate buyout and decided to try something new. He went back to community college and earned his two-year associate’s degree in a single year. Montgomery also started contemplating a business of his own.

It's closer than you think. University of Virginia Northern Virginia
It's closer than you think. University of Virginia Northern Virginia

The company started with a name. “In the early days, ‘Worldgate’ was just a notion without a full business model behind it,” Montgomery recalled. But he and his wife, Katelyn, continued to set up the structure and explore how to launch a consulting firm.

Eventually, they would build Worldgate into a K-12 consulting company that helps public school systems with project management, technology integration, production support and more.

Then, in 2019, a family tragedy caused Montgomery to reevaluate some things. His brother died unexpectedly, and he went to New York City to settle his brother’s affairs.

“One of the things I realized when I was emptying his apartment in New York is that having a legacy is important,” Montgomery recalled. He found his divorced parents’ wedding album in a closet and started thinking about life, grieving the loss of family and considering what it means to leave something behind.

This was the genesis of “How Did You Get Here?” Montgomery thought about his own somewhat unconventional success story, so he wrote a nonfiction book that focuses on areas of his life and business that included partnering, relationship-building, habits, goals and more.

“It was later confirmed for me by something professor Charlotte Matthews said in one of my classes: ‘Legacy is created through the written word,’” he recalled.

Returning to the Classroom

Over the next few years, Montgomery would work on the book and its publication as he progressed through the BIS program at UVA.

His classes were mostly focused on the liberal arts core that UVA is known for. He liked that the classes were generally synchronous – held online with a live professor at a scheduled time.

“Scott is insightful, motivate, and big-hearted,” Matthews, who taught Montgomery, said. “His astute takes on subjects are sometimes so spot-on they catch one off-guard. Remember how Mr. Rogers reminds us to, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ You will undoubtedly find a masterful helper in Scott Montgomery.”

Montgomery said the humanities-oriented curriculum was interesting, exposed him to the breadth of the liberal arts, and that this offered an enjoyable and official conclusion to his educational journey.

“UVA has a very collaborative style of learning, and I never felt judged or like a second-class student,” he said. “UVA SCPS does a great job of bridging the gap between being young and older and going back to school.”

Media Contact

Rob Seal

Director of Marketing and Communications School of Continuing and Professional Studies