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July 16, 2010

Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless

South University Newsroom

As a single mom, lawyer, volunteer, and active church member, Vicki Tucci leads a pretty dynamic life in West Palm Beach County, Florida.  As a working mom, raising a newly born son, Vicki started her career path by earning her associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies in 1997 from South University. 

“Looking back, I am quite aware of how blessed I have been to have people around me who really believe in me, and who were not afraid to say so, even when I might have doubted my potential a little bit,” Vicki admits.  “Knowing people care, and hearing them say it, really stokes the fire and can make great changes happen in a person’s life.”

Ms. Tucci knows what it’s like to advocate for others.  She was recently honored by ChildAbuse Watch as their 2009 Child Advocate of the Year.

Today, Ms. Tucci, Esq., J.D., continues to advocate for those in need and works with a number of non-profit organizations.  In addition, she became a Blackstone Fellow in 2002 and has been teaching part-time at South University, West Palm Beach since 2004.  However, possibly her favorite job continues to be enjoying life with her family, including her now 16-year-old son, Joshua.

“Joshua,” she smiles.  “He is the inspiration for so much in my life.  I think he’s been my inspiration since before he was even born.”

As a young, single mother, Vicki was unexpectedly challenged with the responsibility to make a home for her family. 

“I know it sounds familiar, but I was trying to figure out which direction to go, and I was literally watching television one night when I saw a commercial for South University.  The next day, I was on the phone and visiting the campus and making connections,” she says.  “I was lucky, too, my mother was so supportive and could help by offering child care!”

Leaving South University, Vicki earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and soon after, attended law school at Nova Southeastern University, graduating in the top ten percent of her class.

“Nobody truly does it alone,” according to Vicki.  “Once I started the program at South University, I found real people and a real connection with the campus community that only fueled my interests, but also my desire to work with the law to help others.” 

Recalling her university days that followed, Vicki says she received informed guidance from her instructors at South University. 

“Meeting Doris Rachles truly changed the course of my life,” she continues. “Through her example, I keep learning what a profound difference kind-hearted support means to an individual’s success.”

Ms. Rachles was the department chair for Legal and Paralegal Studies at South University and still works for the university as a Director of Legal Studies.

“Not only did Ms. Rachles get to know me, and remember me by name after our first meeting,” Vicki states, “but she became my biggest fan, my mentor, a friend, and now is a precious colleague.”

With a still growing appreciation for understanding and interpreting law, Vicki greatly values the lives of children, not only her own.  It’s not surprising that much of her academic and professional life has been devoted to advocating for young people, especially those whose interests can sometimes be swept under the rug during difficult legal proceedings.

“Ultimately, I would like to use my experience and law degree to become a judge,” Vicki says.  “As a young, single mom still fleshing out a career, I felt so clueless about many things.  It was that hunger for knowledge that led me to South University’s program in paralegal studies.  I got so much more than a classroom education.  I found friends, professional contacts, and a world of inspiration from being around people who wanted to see me at my best.”

Learn more about South University's Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies program offered at a campus near you or online today.