Rochelle Moore was not going to let another obstacle get in her way of achieving her dream again.
Rochelle Moore, of Stuttgart, was not going to let another obstacle get in her way of achieving her dream again. Delayed twice from graduating from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Moore was determined to finish what she had started and nothing was going to get in her way, including the coronavirus pandemic.
Moore graduated from Stuttgart High School in 2004 with dreams of being the first of her siblings to attend and graduate college. The youngest of four children and the only girl, Moore said her mom encouraged her to not only get her high school diploma, but pursue a college degree.
Moore said her family financially struggled financially. Living check to check, while her mom worked numerous jobs, Moore was still able to pursue college, enrolling at UAPB in 2004.
“I arrived on the campus of the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. I was excited and excelled in my freshman year there,” said Moore. “However, after my freshman year of college, I had to return home because we just couldn't afford for me to continue.”
Moore said even though her family was living check to check their gross income was not enough for her to receive financial aid leaving a balance that she could not afford.
Moore said it was at that juncture from 2005 until 2008 that her life spiraled out of control due to a series of bad choices.
“One was getting married too young and allowing that person to get me caught up in some legal issues that could have caused me to spend time in jail,” said Moore. “I received probation and was able to get my record expunged.”
In 2008, Moore returned to UAPB with plans to finish her degree. This time Moore was pregnant, complicating her endeavors to proceed.
Despite the complications, Moore did not give up.
“When I became pregnant with him, I decided that I needed to get my life together for him,” said Moore. “I ended up withdrawing from school until the fall of 2009. It was during that time, I buckled down and started to thrive in school.”
Things change the fall of 2010 when Moore thought she was having a stroke and had to withdraw from UAPB.
“In August 2010, I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy,” said Moore. “We honestly thought I was having a stroke while in the financial aid office at UAPB. Turned out it was Bell's Palsy due to stress.”
Moore said her condition caused her to fall into a deep depression, isolating herself indoors for several weeks.
“It affected right side of my face,” said Moore. “I couldn’t smile or blink my eye. I cried for days.”
Moore’s road to recovery not only included her health but also her personal life. She happily remarried to her husband Edward Moore and had a second child.
“For eight years I said I would return to finish my degree, but only when I could finish,’ said Moore. “In the summer of 2018, I told my husband, Edward, that I wanted to return to UAPB to finish my degree. I had prayed about it and God said it was time. So I applied to UAPB and was accepted.”
Returning to the yard after more than a decade later, Moore expressed the difference from the first time she stepped foot on campus.
"The Yard" didn't have the same culture as it did when I was on campus. However, the academia culture there has become so enriched,” said Moore. “The most difficult obstacle was the age gap between me and my classmates. Most of my classmates were from my department and were scheduled to graduate with me.”
Moore adds she became the ‘Momma Bear’ of the group.
While at UAPB, Moore was a guest presenter to the Social and Behavior Science Club. She presented on Alternate Career Paths from Behavioral Science Degrees.
As an intern for The Law Office of Furonda Brasfield and a recipient of several scholarships, Moore was placed on the Chancellor’s List for a 4.0 gpa during the 2019 spring semester.
In the fall of 2019, Moore was afforded the opportunity under, Courtney Jackson, to mentor students in need.
“This allowed me to share experiences with them,” said Moore. “The spring 2020 semester I received a 3.053 for the semester and became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. through the Beta Beta Chapter at UAPB.”
After 16 years of trials and tribulation, Moore has finally earned a Bachelor’s of Art in Sociology with plans to enroll at Xavier University to pursue her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and then Bowen Law School for her Juris Doctorate.
“I want people to know it is never too late to get an education. Even when my decisions in life knocked me down, I was determined not to allow them to define me,” said Moore. “I want those who are graduating from high school to know that they can do it. Whether they graduate at 23 or 63 from college, the point is to finish.”
Moore admits the one thing the pandemic has done is taken away is her graduation to celebrate her accomplishment as a first generation college graduate but is grateful to have achieved what her mom encouraged her to push for from the very beginning, even though obstacles.
"Delayed doesn't mean denied,” Moore pointed out. “Sometimes God is delaying you in order to bless and protect you."