3-minute mentor: The myth of the 'self-made' person

July 8, 2019
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • Mentoring
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Cassandra Moore, Director of Enrollment Development & Admissions at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, advocates getting involved in your professional association to get the most out of your career. 

Working in higher education for 26 years, Moore has discovered value in connections made through AACRAO while doing the work she loves, and in mentoring other higher education professionals. 

The benefits of a professional association

“AACRAO has been wonderful for me and to me,” Moore said. “I engage with professionals that I can actually pick up the phone and talk to when work issues occur.” 

A member of the Criminal and Disciplinary History on College Admissions work group, Moore has helped lead listening sessions at AACRAO meetings to obtain the perspectives of other professionals in the field and tap into their different institutional knowledge. She has also served as the chair of the Nominations and Elections and Student Access and Equity committees, a member of the Black Caucus and Awards Committee, and coordinator of Group V: Access and Equity.  

Bloom where you’re planted

Moore’s career arc included working in live television production and as a researcher for a law firm focused on race, age, and sex discrimination. She moved into higher education when she accepted a position as the Program Manager for Graduate Studies at Central Michigan University at Minot AFB, North Dakota. From there, she became, in turn, the graduate admissions coordinator, undergraduate admissions, and transfer counselor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing.  

However, after a year at the Community College of Baltimore County, she discovered her real passion was in working with community college students. She’s been troubled by the lack of access that many of them faced when approaching higher education so is focused on engagement and entry, which can help support successful progression and completion 

“The self-made man is a myth,” she said. “Everyone who’s ‘made it’ has had help.” 

Hands-on access for young professionals

Moore’s championing of access and inclusion extends beyond the first-generation college students she serves at her institution to include young professionals in the field. She offers assistance helping less experienced professionals with session proposal development, and also offers to co-present with first-time presenters looking for experience. 

Many of her mentees have gone on to serve in leadership roles, including the Chairs of the Women’s Caucus and Mentor Services and a Vice Chair for the Black Caucus.

In work, Moore says that there is no “us and them.” It’s “we”: students, families, colleagues and self, all one team developing a path to academic success. 

“For success, embrace being part of a team, be joyful in your work, and do more than you have to,” she advises. “My Admissions Team is like a wheel, and if one spoke is broken, the wheel’s not rolling. Everyone on the team must know they are valued while also being held to high expectations.”