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Paul Tucker defies odds, graduates twice, and finds strength in healthcare leadership

With what must have felt like the weight of the world on his shoulders, Paul Tucker stood up from his wheelchair, steadied himself on his two walking poles, and made his burden vanish into the Idaho sky by walking across the graduation stage to receive his bachelor’s degree.

Paul Tucker stands in front of the Idaho Supreme Court building.
Paul Tucker, Boise State Online MBA graduate. Photo provided by Paul Tucker.

“They wheeled me up; I got my crutches out. I started bawling. I walked up and gave them my card. They called my name. I walked across,” he said. “I have had four operations, two hip and two back, in the last four years — a full spinal surgery — just 10 days earlier. The neurosurgeon said I was going to be in no condition to walk.”

Tucker is making a habit of beating the odds. After graduating from Boise State University’s Online Bachelor of Business Administration in December 2022, he enrolled in the Online Master of Business Administration.

After starting the online MBA with a Marketing Leadership emphasis at Boise State, Tucker switched to healthcare leadership. He is on track to graduate again in 2025.

“The consistency of care that transpired through all of my surgeries was very negative,” he said. “It affected my recovery. I saw that happening with everyone in the world with COVID-19 and lockdown. My classmates and family have really suffered this last year, health-wise.

“Watching them suffer has been an eye-opening experience. I lost my father-in-law two years ago to cancer. Compassion is lacking in a lot of jobs, so that led me to have that compassionate leadership style. That’s why I’ve gone to Healthcare Leadership.”

Tucker, who works in a limited capacity for Albertsons, has already seen a world of change in his life since switching his area of emphasis.

“My life transitioned with COVID-19 — especially with the surgeries,” he said. “I was going for surgery, then coming back to work; going for surgery, then coming back to work. Watching everyone else go through similar issues, like with family members they had to care for, was impactful.”

Back in the Saddle

Tucker was born in Washington, but he spent his childhood on the move as part of a military family. He lived in West Germany and Korea growing up. He enrolled at Boise State to study engineering in the 1990s, but he left school to pursue a job opportunity at Albertsons.

After working in the engineering field for Micron, he returned to Boise State to pick up where he left off. Once again, life got in the way of him reaching his goal.

“I went through what was considered the highest-conflict custody battle ever in Idaho, so I dropped out of school Oct. 3, 2016,” he said. “I had no intention of going back. I was angry at the situation. It was a lot to leave my job, go back to school, and have everything ripped out from underneath me. I didn’t want to leave.”

With a new wife, Monica, and a combined family, Tucker returned to Boise State determined to stay the course. His children include daughters Charilyn (22), Aurora (13), and Seraphina (10), and two stepchildren, Stephen (24) and SamMi (21). Charilyn and SamMi are also current college students.

“I wasn’t sure what the plan was when I went back to school, but the counselors and the advisers all paved the way,” he said. “They got me on the right path and said, ‘You will finish.’ Here are people who will help you. It was all there. I hadn’t even gone through the surgeries yet.”

The experience of gaining business knowledge and acumen has already paid dividends for Tucker. He especially enjoyed the Business Law and Ethics and People and Organizations courses.

“I understood some issues of human resources, but after taking the People and Organizations class, I learned there’s a lot that needs to change with communication with employees — especially within our organization,” he said.

“They need a person in a counseling role for the employees to make the best use of their benefits. There is so much Albertsons offers employees, but they don’t take advantage of some of those things, like free counseling and family counseling and regular medical check-ups.”

More in Store

Tucker isn’t set on a specific role in the healthcare industry, but that isn’t stopping him from formulating a plan for once he wraps up the Online MBA.

“I’ve been working with my neurosurgeon, understanding the financial aspect with all of the books,” he said. “Through St. Luke’s Health System, I’ve been working with a supply chain manager to understand more about those principles.

“I am trying to find an opening I can go through based on my experience. I don’t have a lot of medical training, but I have a lot of quality experience with risk management. That’s the direction I am trying to move into.”

In January, Tucker will have the opportunity to speak to the Idaho legislature and share his story from his previous marriage and ensuing custody battle.

“In July 2022, a new law was signed into law that stated if you file a false protection order, it’s punishable with jail time,” he said. “I get to work with two house representatives from Idaho and get to speak to change laws to be more proactive with shared parenting. Those girls are my life. I try to be the best father I can be.

“My stepson, Stephen, has been legally blind since he was born. All of my senior MBA projects were facilitated toward helping him — he was the catalyst.”

Working as a seafood manager for Albertsons led Tucker to enroll in the Online Bachelor of Business Administration program. But when he walks across that Albertsons Stadium graduation stage for a second time — hopefully, without any need for assistance — he will have a whole new future in front of him.

“I am 6-8,” he said. “I was born with this condition that affects my spine and hips. The neurosurgeon said it’s congenital, but he was surprised it showed up at my age.

“It’s been a blessing. I’m not dead. I am able to get around. I’m walking better now. Changing my degree was a big thing.”

Tucker isn’t limiting his positive influence and vibes to family members. He is helping a friend re-release an album on vinyl and setting up a memorial scholarship at Boise State for another friend. This summer, he intends to intern with Involved Management in the United Kingdom, home to electronic dance musicians Above & Beyond and others.

“Everything I’ve been doing since the degree has empowered me,” he said. “The strength that I found through the program has been one of the biggest things of my life — knowing that I can do this, knowing I have that strength to do anything. I can do it.” 

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