Hometown: Chugiak, Alaska
Fun Fact: Her entire family (three generations, totaling 17 people) are graduates of Chugiak High School
We’re not sure which is more notable: that Jennie Moore received three scholarships from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Alaska Chapter as a student, or that she later became the treasurer of NASW and got to cut those very same scholarship checks to UAA students who came after her. Or what about having her first child three months before graduating and bringing her newborn to class with her…two days after delivery. Needless to say, Jennie’s story is nothing short of inspiring. And we haven’t even mentioned her bout with kidney stones yet.
But maybe we should back up a little. Jennie is born and bred Alaskan, her two daughters making up the fourth generation of Moores in the Chugiak area. And although she went Outside for her undergraduate degree (a bachelor’s in psychology and Christian pre-counseling from Concordia University in Nebraska), she always knew she would return to Alaska to live and work.
“I always knew I was going to come back to Alaska,” she says, “So when I was in Nebraska [at Concordia] and I met my husband, I flew him up to visit and told him if he liked it here we could continue dating, if he didn’t like it here we’re not going to get down the road and have an argument.” Her laughter at the memory is both good-humored and no-nonsense.
The two married in 2005 and made the move after he graduated in 2006. Neither has looked back since.
Between her Alaska roots and her no-nonsense, yet good-natured, attitude, Jennie was the perfect candidate for the M.S.W. at UAA.
“I did a lot of research when choosing between clinical psychology and social work for my graduate work,” she says, explaining that she worked at both North Star Behavioral Health and Providence Hospital in Anchorage as she explored her options. “I had a lot of opportunities to interact with people in the field and I asked everybody from psychologists to neuropsychologists to other mental health professionals which degree they would pick; almost every one of them said social work.”
What it finally came down to was the variety of career paths a social worker can take when compared to a licensed professional counselor. And it was Jennie’s interest in having those diverse options that hooked her.
“I didn’t want to feel limited to only being in therapy for my whole career,” she says. “Social workers can bridge all kinds of fields, from child protection to human services and mental health; they can also work in social policy and advocacy.”
UAA’s M.S.W. program was an especially good fit because it is an advanced generalist program that delves deep into every aspect of social work.
“You really do learn a lot about everything,” Jennie says. “This type of program has been selected for Alaska’s needs and it is very intensive.”
In addition to a full load of classes, UAA’s M.S.W. students must also complete two full-year practicums. Jennie chose placements at Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center and the Alaska VA Healthcare System. Her relationship with NASW also started while she was a student when she was chosen for the student rep position on their board of directors.
“I thought it would be a great learning opportunity and a way to get to know more people in the social work community,” Jennie says. “I have had a lot of opportunities to help the chapter grow.”
After serving a year as a student rep, Jennie stayed on as treasurer for the past two years. And that is where her good fortune of having earned three NASW scholarships (one general and two Ella Craig scholarships) came full circle.
“Being the treasurer, I actually got to provide those scholarships to UAA myself for other students!” she says, clearly delighted. She has also made a point to attend the M.S.W. graduation gala every year to congratulate her fellow alums. “It is a hard program; it really is a major accomplishment to finish.”
Sounds like the program is challenging enough without becoming a mother or battling pregnancy-induced kidney stones. But Jennie took that all in stride.
She is now the mother of two (her newest daughter is three months old) and working part-time as a mental health and substance abuse counselor at Alaska Family Services in Wasilla. Ratcheting her workload down from full-time was the sensible thing to do, but she continues to fill her time with what matters to her the most: family.
In fact, she is currently running on a consistent basis with her 8-year-old niece who set for them a goal of running 5Ks in all 50 states. They have races in five East Coast states coming up in September over 10 days, which will be added to the seven states already ticked off.
“This was all my niece’s idea,” Jennie laughs. “This has been the most dedicated to running I’ve been in my life, and it’s only because of her. She is very fast for her age and I’m hoping to help train her to be a top competitor when she gets to high school.” We’re only assuming she means Chugiak High School.