Some people prefer to be on the move. Once a place gets comfortable and everything becomes familiar, it’s time to go. Keith Moore is one of those people.
Moore is the assistant director of residence life and program development at Springfield College and his role at Springfield has become very comfortable to him. While his road to Springfield College has been winding and his stops along the way brief, Moore may have found something on Alden Street worth sticking around for. For Moore, his career built around school goes all the way back to the North Pole, where he was a student himself.
The North Pole is actually in Alaska Moore says. North Pole, Alaska is over 4,000 miles away from Springfield and according to its residents they share the same area code as Claus himself. Streetlights in North Pole are all decorated to look like giant candy canes and visitors could find themselves passing an eclipse of snowbanks at the corner of Mistletoe Drive and Santa Claus Lane (actual streets). The sparse population isn’t afraid to express North Pole’s “where the spirit of Christmas lives year ‘round!” motto. Children around the country send festively scribbled wish lists to North Pole, Alaska but Moore says it’s actually a good place to go to high school.
Moore and his two brothers graduated from North Pole High near Eielson Air Force base where their father was stationed. Moore’s father was a colonel in the Air Force and the family of five has lived all over the country. While their roots may stretch from Moore’s birthplace of Jacksonville, Fla. all the way to North Pole, Alaska, Moore says his military family is as close as they come. The three boys received structured and sound morals from their father and music became a family passion.
“Our father always instilled in us the characteristics of being a man: being respectful to elders, always doing the right thing and not being afraid to take chances,” said Moore.
The Moore family takes pride in its musical talents and Keith himself can play over five instruments ranging from the piano to the trumpet.
With his North Pole diploma in hand, Moore knew that college was on the doorstep, along with the freedom that comes with it. College was just part of the “chances” that Moore’s father preached about and head first was the only way the graduate knew how to approach it.
Moore set his sights on Alabama State University, where he wanted to study elementary education. College came with an entirely new set of rules for Moore and his newfound independence was a big change. Football games, fraternity life and freedom at Alabama could be considered the exact opposite of North Pole, Alaska.
“It was a big transition but I enjoyed myself. I had a lot of fun just getting to know me,” said Moore.
Fun at Alabama became a distraction and Moore knew that he needed to get back on the road. Moving all over the country and switching colleges seems overwhelming but the traveling was something that came naturally for Moore. Chicago State University caught his eye so Moore headed up to Illinois to begin his next endeavor.
Arriving at Chicago State, Moore was eager to finish his undergrad degree, but initially he was more eager to find a place to stay. Moore walked into the residence life office and was surprised to find the office completely empty. A phone began ringing at a nearby desk without anyone to answer it so Moore decided he would take the call. “Hey it’s a lovely day at Chicago State University, how may I help you,” Moore answered, unaware that the caller was Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Michael Battle. Moore’s personality caught Battle’s attention through the phone so Battle marched over to the office right away to meet Moore in person.
The two took a walk around the Chicago State University campus and after a few hours Battle asked Moore to be a resident assistant. Moore says he has been hooked ever since. Battle became a mentor for Moore and helped him navigate his career at Chicago State. Battle is still his mentor to this day, said Moore.
Moore truly found his niche at Chicago State and opportunities began to pile up for him. Aside from his role as a resident assistant, Moore also climbed his way to the ranks of president of the student government association.
“It was a really rewarding experience for me,” said Moore. “I was able to connect with my community and my college.”
As president of Chicago State SGA, Moore had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Barack Obama before he was president. Obama was running for senator at the time and Moore was in charge of putting together a public rally for him in Chicago. Moore was doing big things in Chicago; things that he says he was honored to be a part of and that many people don’t believe.
“People are always like ‘you don’t know Barack’ and I always say I do I have pictures!” said Moore with a laugh.
After his three years in Chicago it was once again time for Moore to hit the road. Moore now had the experience to take on bigger things and he had caught wind of an opportunity in Connecticut. Moore had never worked on the East Coast before but by this point change had become his norm. Western Connecticut State University hired Moore as a resident director where he enjoyed three more years of experience.
As reliable as the tides and the seasons, Moore’s three-year-itch came back once again and Springfield College fell into his sights. Moore’s resume landed on the desk of director of housing and residence life Tarome Alford, who invited Moore to Springfield for an interview as soon as possible.
“I have to work here,” said Moore after his visit to Alden Street in June of 2009. The Springfield College atmosphere, students and campus all spoke to Moore. Moore’s interview went off without a hitch and the following morning he heard a phone ringing; this time the call was for him. Alford asked Moore to become part of their team so Moore took the job and says he hasn’t looked back since.
Moore says he feels comfortable at Springfield more than anything. Wearing his vibrant personality on his sleeve Moore takes advantage of the opportunity to share his passion for residence life with resident assistants at Springfield. Whether it is his infectious laughing or his uplifting singing, Moore has a personality that is difficult to miss.
“He is one of the hardest working individuals on this campus,” said Alford. “He definitely takes the time to make himself accessible to the students’ needs.”
On weeknights it is typical to find Moore burning the midnight oil in his office. As weary security guards are preparing to lock up the Campus Union, they are often drawn to Moore’s office, where he diligently works the graveyard shift with a smile.
“The security guards are always coming in at 1 a.m. and saying ‘Keith, what are you still doing here man’,” said Moore.
The truth is Moore can’t get enough of his job here at Springfield and he’s constantly thinking of ways to improve his work.
This fall marks the beginning of Moore’s third year working at Springfield College. If history actually does repeat itself then Moore would be preparing for his next move, but something about Springfield has Moore thinking long-term.
“I really like Massachusetts. I’d love to stay,” said Moore.
Moore recently became a licensed minister in the state of Massachusetts and enjoys being the minister of music at his local church on Boston Road in Springfield.
Moore is the new professional liaison for the Massachusetts College Personnel Association and does programming for the entire state.
There are a lot of reasons to stay, he says, but most importantly Moore loves to work with his students.
Kylie Martin is entering her second year as a Springfield College RA and Martin says that Moore is just a great person to work with.
“Keith is able to take work and make it seem like it isn’t work. If I had to pick one word to describe him it would be ‘fun’,” said Martin.
Martin says Moore is the type of person who will always be there.
“If I ever have any issues he is such an easy person to go to, no matter what he is always going to listen,” she said.
Moore remembers his days at Chicago State when Dr. Battle helped him put his right foot forward; he just wants to return the favor.
If you happen to call Moore’s office phone and he is out and about, the answering machine will greet you with the same enthusiasm that got Moore into the business years ago when he answered someone else’s phone. “It’s a beautiful day at Springfield College.”
Looking back at North Pole and the years to follow it is safe to say that Moore’s on-the-move military childhood got the wheels turning for his future on the road. It just took a place like SC to make Moore hit the brakes, and maybe even hang up the keys.
Sean Seifert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org