Tracy is the Founder and President of STEP: Student Expedition Program – a multi-year college-prep and leadership program for low-income Arizona youth seeking to be the first in their families to attain a college degree. Tracy received her Doctorate in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1993. After several years as a Coral Reef Researcher at the University of Miami and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), she turned her full focus to teaching. Tracy joined Columbia University’s Biosphere 2 Center to teach in their undergraduate program and later developed and taught college-level field courses for Sea Education Association, University of Pittsburgh, Long Island University, and Prescott College. During this time, Tracy also became an instructor with NOLS, sailing Drascombes in the Sea of Cortez and later, sea-kayaking with STEP students in Prince William Sound, Alaska.
Soon after establishing STEP, Tracy forged a partnership with NOLS to provide its world-class leadership training to STEP’s desert urban youth. That partnership has been going strong for over 16 years, contributing to the incredible success of STEP graduates. To date, 96% of STEP alumni are in college or have attained a college degree.