Potter Student of Year persists despite obstacles

Leah Moore loves coming to Jackson College each day. She throws herself into her studies, develops friendships with her classmates and appreciates all of her professors.

Moore has followed her dream of pursuing her own education, persevering despite some significant obstacles. The College recognized her efforts by honoring her with the 2018 George Potter Outstanding Student Award.

Moore is a non-traditional student who’s a mother and grandmother. She always enjoyed art but never fully embraced it until she took a class with Associate Professor Tom McMillen-Oakley, who recognized her talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Moore has gone all in with her education, taking advantage of many opportunities.

With her love for learning, one wouldn’t guess she’s struggled with illness. She won’t let the illness define her, though, and makes the most of every experience. Working as a student employee and art assistant has allowed her to tutor students personally. She’s embraced the age difference between herself and many of her young classmates, who often refer to her as “Mama Leah.”

Earlier this academic year, Moore participated in the LAND Competition, the Liberal Arts Network for Development, in creative writing – poetry category, and as a student scholar, and won in both – the first Jackson College student to do so. Student scholars must present their work at the Conference. Moore received a standing ovation. Her poem, “Promise Bridge,” will be published in an online journal. Moore previously won several campus poetry contests sponsored by William Atkinson Library.

Positive attitude

“I love it here at Jackson College. I love coming to school each day,” Moore said. “I’ve not had a bad teacher or a bad experience. I throw myself into my work. I take it seriously, like a job, maybe because I’m older.”

Dr. Ted Miller first met Moore in a first-year seminar class. “I have watched Leah blossom as a scholar throughout her time at Jackson College,” said Miller, who nominated her for the award. “Some people dealing with debilitating illness, medical procedures, transportation challenges and the like might be tempted to complain or become discouraged. Leah always models a creator mindset: she looks squarely at the tough situations she is facing, weighs her options, and chooses actions that will move her towards her goals. Semester after semester, she just keeps fighting and winning. She is truly deserving of the Outstanding Student Award.”

Moore is working toward an Associate of Arts and Certificates in Studio Art and Digital Photography, with plans to graduate in 2019. She hopes to continue her studies to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree after Jackson.

 “I’m overwhelmed (with the award). I was thinking about it, and I thought the LAND Conference was my love song to Jackson College, while the Potter Student Award was my rock anthem! I’m just so excited. I never thought this would be happening to me.”