5/5/12 ASHLAND, Ohio -- On May 5, 2012, Euclid resident Destinee Moore was one of about 500 students who walked across the stage to receive a diploma at Ashland University’s Spring Commencement. And while this was a special moment for all of the graduates, it may have been a little more special for Moore, who just five years ago was homeless and living in the City Mission shelter in Cleveland, Ohio.
Moore, who has accepted a job offer in his field with Aramark Corp., received his degree in hospitality management.
Moore had graduated from Euclid Senior High School in 2002, and at that time he had no aspirations for his future and surely no plans to attend college.
But a close friend of his, someone with whom he had graduated high school, convinced him to visit Ashland University with him. “He spoke to me about the scope of my abilities and what I could accomplish, yet I was unmoved,” Moore said.
While his friend went on to attend Ashland University and later graduated, Moore did not attend school then. But he did make a promise at that time.
“I promised him on that day years ago that if I ever were to attend college, that this (Ashland University) would be the place,” he said. “Years later, after a myriad of failed attempts to better my life, I decided it was time to make good on my oath.”
So, without a great deal of understanding of how to finance a college education and little knowledge about curriculum or majors, Moore packed up his few personal belongings and showed up the day before classes started in fall semester of 2008.
“When I arrived, I began the journey of a lifetime -- a journey that has led me through peaks and valleys,” Moore said. “Honestly, there have been many times when I did not believe this journey would result in a positive end and debated if all my efforts were in vain.
“But at this moment however, with job in hand, I know that keeping my promise was the best decision that I could have made.”
Moore said the fulfillment of this promise was made possible by the willingness of people to share their resources with people in need.
“Organizations like The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges (OFIC), which connect the philanthropic spirit with the needs of dreamers, should feel validated in their work to see students like myself attain what previously seemed impossible,” Moore said.
Through OFIC, Moore has received the Helen & Louis Stolier Family Foundation scholarship award for 2011-2012 and 2010-2011, and he was selected to give the student address at the OFIC’s Board of Trustees meeting in Columbus on April 18.
“Your efforts have enabled me to enter into a new realm of enlightenment and the chance to access a higher quality standard of living, and I humbly ask that you continue to do the same for the many others in desperate need of financial help,” Moore told the members of the OFIC board.
Moore also noted that it is his hope that his story can be an encouragement to others. "My fondest wish is that individuals avoid the mistakes I made, gain some sense of inspiration and encouragement from my story, and know that in spite of a dismal current situation, future success is still within their grasp,” Moore said.
“I am truly grateful for the show of faith and trust that the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges has placed within me and my potential. There are few demonstrations of genuine altruism in this world and the few that are, are performed only by the premier of our society and organizations like the OFIC,” he said. “I am humbled by such displays of goodwill and will continue to strive towards becoming an individual in whom my family and friends, Ashland University, and organizations such as the OFIC, can be proud of."
Moore was very involved in campus life and academics while attending Ashland University. He is a member of the Ashland Chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality as well as the Ashland Black Student Union, International Club and Philosophy Club. Moore already has received his associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Ashland University in 2010 as well as his ServSafe Certification for Beverage Management and Foodservice in 2011. He was awarded the Hilda E. Bretzlaff Foundation Memorial Scholarship for 2011-2012 as well as the William Randolph Hurst Endowment in 2010 and again in 2011. Moore served as president of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality Ashland Chapter from 2009-2010 and has been a member for the duration of his academic career. In 2009 and 2011, he served as Director of the Students Taking Responsibility for Engineering New Growth Through Hospitality (S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.) Program, which is an outreach program directed towards informing Ohio high school students interested in the hospitality industry about the benefits of higher education and membership in the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality. He served as an Intern at the Ashland University Office of Institutional Diversity in 2011-2012 and served as a Mentor for the Student Entrepreneurship Engagement (SEE) Program in 2010 as well as for imprisoned youth at the Mohican Correctional Facility, and participated in the Martin Luther King Service Day Project helping with renovations to Associated Charities here in Ashland. He has volunteered with the Cleveland Food Bank and the Ashland Council of the Elderly to distribute food to elderly citizens and disadvantaged families. He received an Achievement Award from the Ashland Honor Society on Nov. 30, 2011, in recognition of programs that he participated in, initiated and directed.