Campus & Community

Campus programs give junior Rory Moore a sense of community

"My time at DU has been a life lesson on who I am as a person,” says Rory Moore. “Because of DU, I know how to prepare for life.” Photo courtesy of Rory Moore

“My time at DU has been a life lesson on who I am as a person,” says Rory Moore. “Because of DU, I know how to prepare for life.” Photo courtesy of Rory Moore

A graduate of Northglenn High School in north Denver, Rory Moore considers his University of Denver education a ticket to a better life.

Moore’s father didn’t live at home, and his mother suffers from short-term memory loss, so he and his sister were essentially raised by their grandparents. From a young age, Moore says, “I had a drive to get us out of this hole.” He wanted to show his sister that it was possible for them to go to college and succeed. “I think poverty is a cycle,” he says. “We get stuck. The fact that I’m going to college will give me the opportunity to do so much.”

He’s been seizing opportunities ever since enrolling at DU in fall 2013, choosing the University over other options because its quarter system would allow him to explore multiple minors. After realizing his original pre-med major was not the route he wanted to pursue, he transitioned into creative writing.

Throughout his journey, Moore, a junior, has learned the value of getting involved. Very involved. He serves as president of the DU Black Student Alliance (BSA), as external chair of Undergraduate Student Government’s diversity committee, and as a mentor for the Daniels Fund Scholarship and the Pioneer Leadership Program. In addition, he’s been active with the University’s annual Diversity Summit and with the Center for Multicultural Excellence (CME). An avid singer, he participates in the DU Men’s Choir as well as the Denver Chorale.

When he first arrived on campus, Moore, as a student of color, felt isolated and alone. (At DU, the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis reports, people of color account for just 21 percent of the University’s undergraduate population — a percentage that has been growing as DU has beefed up its recruiting practices.) Moore even considered transferring to another school — until he called his grandmother for advice.

As he recalls, the conversation went something like this: “Grandson,” she told him, “this is life. DU is just a mirror aspect of life, and you need to get through this. You making it through DU will give you opportunities and show you how to prevail in the workforce later on.”

Moore took her advice, persevered and found support from the groups he joined, from his peers and from the CME staff, particularly Tracey Adams-Peters, who directs inclusive excellence student success efforts. “They gave me a sense of family and helped me become familiar with DU and made me want to stay here,” Moore says, noting that he has been able to “attain leadership positions and help other students as well.”

One of the ways he helps other students is by serving as assistant coordinator for the CME’s Excelling Leaders Institute (ELI), which provides workshops dealing with such issues as privilege, power and what it’s like to be a member of an underrepresented minority at DU. ELI also provides resources that help students select majors and chart their way to graduation.

“I love this program,” Moore says. “Most of the participants are first generation and are students of color, and we provide them with the first step towards what their experience at DU is going to be.”

As president of the BSA, which works to promote solidarity among black students on campus, Moore has learned another lesson about being African-American. “It sucks sometimes that we have to make things happen,” he says. “It’s so daunting to try to explain what it means to be black or why we’re being oppressed as people of color and why the system isn’t working for us. It really is unfortunate, but I think the more that we keep attacking these issues, the more change will happen.”

And so he keeps attacking the issues. “I do a lot of community events across campus to get the BSA to take leadership and get involved, so they feel connected to DU and want to stay here.”

Moore experienced another turning point in his life last summer, when he came to the realization that he is gay and decided to come out publicly. It has been a difficult transition, and he has faced some adversity, but, he says, that only motivates him more. “I want to prove that even though I am gay and I am black, I can be successful. There are certain social constructs in society, but they can be broken and I will change peoples’ minds by succeeding.”

For students facing comparable challenges, Moore draws on his DU experience to offer this advice: Tap into all available resources and focus on the many opportunities for self-improvement.

“The opportunities and experiences that I have gone through are only going to help me. Life is never perfect, and my time at DU has been a life lesson on who I am as a person,” he says. “Because of DU, I know how to be prepared for the workforce. I know how to prepare for life.”

After graduation, Moore hopes to go to graduate school to study community health and behavior, focusing on how the African-American and gay communities intersect. His goal is to do social justice work and give back to the community.

“I believe that through our struggles we can have a sense of optimism,” he says. “I want to give everyone an opportunity. I try not to underestimate anyone because we all have something unique to offer.”


One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *