Celebrating Student Success: Tressa Lacy

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First-generation Master of Accounting student, author, and mother of five: Tressa Lacy, is achieving multiple milestones through the support of scholarships, mentors, and Milgard community resources

Tressa Lacy, MAcc student, class of 2020Due to graduate in June 2020, Tressa has received numerous scholarships and awards including the Puget Sound Business Journal Lytle Enterprises Women of Influence Scholarship, American Association of University Women Career Development Grant, Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance Scholarship, Washington CPA Foundation Scholarship, and the International Zonta Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship. She also received the Institute of Management Accountants Memorial Education Fund Scholarship, Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Rhonda J. B. O’Leary Memorial Scholarship, and a Milgard School of Business Academic Scholarship.

"Many of the scholarships have been based on my work, in connection with many like-minded individuals, in helping women achieve their highest contribution for themselves, their families, and society through removing barriers to empowerment. My background has allowed me to help women start businesses, provide training so young women could attend college, and to create financial infrastructures to implement grants in impoverished school districts. The scholarships have provided much more than financial support in further developing my career, they have provided mentors and a professional community to support me as I continue to break these barriers."

“Tressa Lacey’s application for our scholarship program impressed the committee immediately. Her story of growing up in logging camps and overcoming terrifying injuries, only to dedicate her life to helping others simply jumped off the page. Then we met her and it was clear she was highly deserving of this opportunity. Tressa is the kind of person who makes things happen for herself and for others. We know she will continue to do great things for many years to come and we feel fortunate that we can help her gain access to our amazing Women of Influence network and all the incredible opportunities that provides.”

-Emily Parkhurst, Publisher and Market President | Puget Sound Business Journal

It was clear to those of us making the decision on this year’s scholarship winners, that Tressa Lacy is one amazing woman, with vision, determination and the ability to overcome and move forward,  finding not only solutions but ways to lift and help others,said Patti Payne, founder of The Payne Group, and one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s scholarship committee for this award.Tressa has the drive that it takes to make her mark, and it will be interesting to watch her trajectory. She is a tribute to the UW’s Milgard School of Business.

In the 2018–19 academic year, scholarships were awarded to 162 Milgard students and total over $411,000.

After 12 years out of college with an undergraduate degree in accounting from Brigham Young University, Tressa Lacy began the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program at the Milgard School of Business in spring quarter 2018. Her journey to the MAcc program was far from easy. Tressa grew up in a family of 15. Though her parents started a prosperous sawmill, environmental legislation impoverished the family overnight. In the years following, she lived in a small school bus with her family in various logging camps striving to carve a dollar out of the mountains. It became necessary for her and her siblings to take on the role of a lumberjack. Tressa operated a chainsaw she could barely lift. Although it was thrilling for the first few years, she recognized the dangers of this lifestyle at 13 when her entire leg was shattered in a logging accident.

Tressa is involved currently in founding “Undaunted Women” a non-profit dedicated to helping women become courageously steadfast despite adversity through personal development and professional growth. Additionally, Tressa started writing a memoir about her unique experiences as a child lumberjack after several influential women approached her and expressed interest in learning more of her story at the 2019 Puget Sound Business Journal's Woman of Influence Gala. "These Influential women, including Patti Payne and the scholarship selection panels, made me realize for the first time that my story was unique. They helped me see that my story is what supports me in authentically guiding others in overcoming their own barriers. Through sharing my story and taking action to improve the lives of others, I simply desire to instill the spark of hope in others they’ve instilled in me.”

The book focuses on those times when “hard work and perseverance don’t pan out.” It emphasizes that paving a positive path forward is possible because there are always people and moments that send forth a ripple of enough hope to carry you forward, toward fulfilling your unique purposes. 

"I am where I am because of the many people who became encouragers along my journey. Their simple outreach, even when I was covered with a week’s worth of tree sap, told me I mattered and that I was capable of anything. At times it was the only thing I had to hold onto. Clearly, moments like this are still what propels me forward today."

Tressa attempted to fund her entire first year of the MAcc program by herself, leaving five young kids at home at night in order to attend classes on campus. Yet after minimizing her accounting clients to immerse herself in her first year of the MAcc program, she realized that she would need to seek support and the aid of scholarships.

"Fortunately, at UW Tacoma, you’re not only able to take school at your own pace and to obtain scholarships, but also to access the many resources the school offers. Some of the resources I have found especially helpful include the University Y; registered student organizations and leadership programs; the Milgard Success Center, the Center for Equity and Inclusion, and Disability Resources. Combined with incredibly understanding and supportive professors and mentors, these resources have provided the tools I’ve needed to feel connected on campus, to remain socially responsible, and to provide the transformational educational experience I was seeking to continue my work more capably."

January 13, 2020
Media contact: 

Shane Benoit