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Grad earns law degree while overcoming cancer

A man in athletic gear runs near a mountain.

Scott Tish overcame cancer while earning his Master of Legal Studies degree at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Courtesy photo

May 03, 2024

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates

Scott Tish never thought law school was in the cards for him. 

A former air ambulance helicopter pilot who now serves as an aviation consultant in Castle Rock, Colorado, Tish earned his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in organizational leadership. But something shifted for Tish on his commute home from work one day. 

“I drove past a law school every day going to work. I stopped one day and had a chat with the dean,” said Tish, of a school close to his Colorado home. “I walked out hooked.”

He chose to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University to earn his Master of Legal Studies as an online student from the convenience of his home due to its sterling reputation. But a big roadblock threatened his education mid-degree: he was diagnosed with cancer.

He was forced to take some time off of school to focus on his health. 

“Trying to study law, and do well at it, and chemo do not get along — at all,” Tish said. “I stopped and took care of myself, and then picked up where I left off.”

Now in remission, Tish is graduating with his MLS degree and has high hopes for the future. He even hopes to return to law school to pursue his Juris Doctor, proving it’s never too late.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: Their reputation and willingness to give me the chance.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professor Beth DiFelice in legal research. She was relentless in her passion to show me how to find those really hard answers. Never stop looking. There are amazing things to find.

Q: What about advice for those considering ASU Law?

A: Take it seriously. And don't give up mid-contracts. It doesn't get any easier, but you can adapt and learn if you ask your professor for help.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Law school. I hope.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Cancer.

Q: What does graduating mean to you and your loved ones?

A: It was hard, and I did it with their help and patience.

Q: Who, if anyone, helped you get here?

A: My wife, Pam.

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