Tracy Hoffman had a lot of fun as an undergrad in the ‘80s—so much fun that her grades suffered.
“I was on my own and doing whatever I wanted,” she said. “Eventually, I was asked not to come back.”
Hoffman had a son by age 20. After getting divorced, she relocated to Atlanta in an effort to find a good job and pay the bills.
“I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere,” she said. “I needed to go back to school.”
Hoffman applied to Georgia State but got rejected based on less-than-stellar transcripts. But she found the admissions committee’s focus on her academic performance from eight years prior unfair. She wrote a protest letter, citing her transformation as a person and renewed commitment to school. Georgia State admitted her on a probationary basis. Hoffman graduated with a B.B.A. in accountancy in 1994, followed by a Master of Taxation in 1997.
Hoffman has built a career as a senior tax manager overseeing tax returns for large corporations. She spent six years at Porsche Cars North America and just accepted a position as income tax manager for REEF Technology. She was able to build a better life for herself and her son because Georgia State gave her a chance.
Paying her way through school as a single mother wasn’t easy, but Hoffman managed to secure financial assistance through grants and loans. She just established the Emily Arlene McGehee Memorial Scholarship for students in similar circumstances. One recipient will be selected for the $1,000 award each year. Applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree from Robinson’s School of Accountancy and be a single parent. Hoffman named the scholarship after her mother, also a single parent who worked hard to provide for her children and instilled in them the value of paying it forward.
“I’m not looking for straight-A students. Straight-A students get enough help, and the rest of us get left behind when it comes to financial aid,” Hoffman said. “The recipients I have in mind are looking to do better for themselves and their families. The scholarship is a hand up—not a handout—to ease their burden a little bit.”
When Robinson’s Office of Development initially approached her about opportunities to give, Hoffman didn’t think funding a scholarship was within her reach. But a conversation with Ivan Segovia, director of development, changed her mind.
“I always thought a scholarship meant a huge endowment beyond my ability,” she said. “But it’s actually doable because I can spread out the financial commitment over a number of years.”
Hoffman remarried a few months before completing her undergraduate degree, and had three more children. She hasn’t forgotten the ups and downs of her journey to a stable life and career.
“I’m here because of my mother and Georgia State,” she said. “I want to make sure they get the recognition they deserve.”