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Strategies that guide you to academic and professional success.

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As adults, we have unique motivations and needs for our academic, career, and professional goals. Often, we encounter twists and turns, detours, and roadblocks that keep us from progressing and reaching our goals. 

No one's path is the same; there is no cookie-cutter approach to help you on the path to success. Instead, I focus on your unique needs and goals that reflect your authentic self. At Graduate Step-By-Step, I meet you where you are and help unlock your power to take you where you want to be.

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My Coaching
Philosophy: CAN 

  • Compassion: I believe every person has a unique story. Therefore, every person needs a space to feel safe and secure, free from judgment and prejudice. My coaching lies in kindness, caring, and helpfulness toward each person. 

  • Authentic: I strive to unlock one's authentic self by focusing on your goals and needs in each session and creating a vision. Next, I use reflective practice to help you unlock the challenges, barriers, and blind spots that create roadblocks to your success. 

  • Nurturing: I create an environment that encourages you in your academic, professional, and personal development. I foster a space where you embrace your inner strength to make breakthroughs, take action, and have the courage to push through barriers. 

Career and Professional Coaching

A career transition, whether quitting a job, starting a side hustle, or moving to the next level, is not straightforward. It is a lifestyle redesign where you reflect on yourself and your purpose. Perhaps you want to shift your career in a way that aligns with what your inner voice is saying, but you are unsure or afraid. We dive into your curiosity, conviction, and commitment and define your purpose and WHY, flushing out the WHAT, WHEN, and HOW and setting goals.

Coaching Services

Do you have a goal you’re trying to achieve but don’t know where to begin? Let me guide you. Take a look at the list of my services below, and contact me if you have any questions or special requests.


Graduate Program Coaching

Whether you are considering a graduate degree or are currently in a master's or Ph.D. program, you may wonder if it is too late or if you are losing daylight. Maybe you are unsure about which degree or program to pursue. Does a graduate degree align with your goals? I can help you with goal setting, time management, focus, resources and learning strategies, imposter syndrome, fear of failure, or struggling with communicating or advocating for your unique needs as an adult learner. 

Thesis/Dissertation Coaching

Working on your proposal and dissertation can be stressful and frustrating. I can help you develop a plan to help you through the detours and roadblocks that sometimes happen. Whether you have writer's block, emotional roadblocks, or need some strategies to stay focused, a coach can be a great source of support and help you to the finish line. Please note: You must inform your dissertation chair that you are working with me. Therefore, communication is essential and required.

"Don't limit your challenges, challenge your limits."
- Jerry Dunn, America's Marathon Man

Tracy Cook

PhD - North Carolina State University

JD – State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Law

MA – State University of New York at Buffalo

BS – Indiana University of Pennsylvania

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Greetings! I am Dr. Tracy! 

My academic and career journey has never been a straight line. Like you, I have spent much of my life trying to find my place in the world. I can attest to walking the path of career change as a trial attorney, professor, department chair, research, and academic dean. I also know the challenges and triumphs of earning a graduate degree after being out of school for 20 years. These life transitions are not linear but a winding road with some roadblocks and detours. 

I started Graduate Step by Step out of my love of helping others see their potential for greatness. I have taught and guided learners of all ages and backgrounds, but working with adult learners is my passion. My doctoral studies in Educational Research and Policy Analysis – Adult, Workforce, and Continuing Professional Education give me great insight into what motivates adult learners and their needs in formal and nonformal learning environments. Graduate Step by Step marries my real-time experience with my research knowledge to create a space where adults are supported in their life transition, whether pursuing a graduate degree, changing careers, or embarking on a new profession. You are not losing daylight but lighting the way to a new life that reflects your passion and authentic self. 

As an International Coaching Federation (ICF) certified Master Professional Coach, I use the ICF's coaching model and my adult, workforce, and continuing professional education background to key into your unique needs and motivations. I meet you where you are and help you reach your goal. Everyone's journey is unique and requires a roadmap to get them to where they want to be! 


Learn about what our students have to say about their experience learning with us.

"When I started my Ph.D., the advice I was given was that it is a lot like running a marathon in that it takes consistent perseverance. When I trained for my first half, I wasn’t successful until I found a coach that held me accountable and helped me set realistic goals. I felt that same sense of clarity when I started with Tracy as my dissertation coach. The tools that she provided helped me stay organized and focused when I was starting to feel myself slow down in writing my dissertation proposal. I now find myself using some of these tools in writing related to my job. I always enjoy her positivity during our check-ins and validation of how I am feeling. I am so grateful for her insight and wealth of knowledge throughout the process."

Alyssa A. - Ph.D. Candidate (ABD)

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