Alumni Spotlight: Kat Moses ’12

If you walk into the newly redesigned and renamed bell hooks center* on any given day, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll run into a bright and smiling face, even behind the mask, welcoming you to come on in. That radiation of positive energy would be coming from none other than alumna, Kat Moses. As the Administrative Assistant, Kat knows the ins and outs of the center better than most, and she was kind enough to sit down with the Career Services Department for a talk about her career journey and what brought her back to Berea.  

 

What were your labor positions while you were a student? 

Well, I started out as a host at Boone Tavern and then they closed a few months into my freshman year to do their whole green Kitchen renovation. And so, I transferred to the Music Department for the rest of the year and then I was an RA for a year in Pearson’s, a hall monitor for a year in Pearson’s, and then an administrative assistant in the women’s studies office my senior year. 

 

Why did you decide to be a Women, Gender, and Sexualities Major? 

Honestly, when I got to college I started in English and Theater, and I kept taking all these classes that I really liked and identified with, and I changed my major five or six times. But what remained consistent was minoring in Women Studies. Through that, I felt really engaged and engaged in the content. It was the work that I wanted to go home and read 100 extra pages on things that I was really passionate about and I found that it, reflected our life experience – or at least mine and my family’s more so than a lot of the other topics that I was studying. 

So Women Studies kind of became, I don’t know, my safe landing spot I guess. It taught me critical thinking and writing research we looked at statistics as well as theory. And so I found it really comprehensive.  

So, what exactly do you do here now at the bell hooks center? 

Well, I’m an administrative assistant. As Dr. Shadee Malakou [the head of the WGS department] says, I “steer this ship” for everybody here. I don’t know if I steer it, but I try to guide it a little bit (here you’ll see that Kat was being modest). I manage the finances. I also assist with programming planning event coordination. I supervise our fantastic program associates TA. And then aside from that, I also kind of serve as “creative thought planning” in the background. I also do pride organizing, I’m the president of PFLAG Somerset, so I have a little bit of background specifically in LGBTQIA + experiences and advocacy and support. And so, I bring that to the table. [I] have a huge focus on how we can ensure that this space serves those individuals on campus who’ve been underserved historically. 

 

It sounds like, in this position, you are able to take what you really enjoyed about your major and implement it into your job. Out of all of those things, do you have a favorite that you get to do? 

Well, I think, I think my favorite part about studying Women Studies, as well as working in the department, is that we’re really focused on groups that weren’t typically focused on, you know? I came from a small rural town that’s 97% white. So, before I came to Berea, I had no experience or understanding of any culture outside of my own. So, to be able to learn so much more about our curriculum, and to work in this space and ensure that it aims to serve and provide programming to the groups that always weren’t centered in higher education planning or even in departmental planning . . . being able to be that space where everyone is welcome, where we encourage discourse . . . it’s amazing. 

 

What were you doing before you came back to work at Berea? 

Well, my career has been interesting (at this, Kat gave a good laugh). When I graduated, I took a position in Cincinnati working for an organization that serves nonprofit organizations but was not a nonprofit itself. It had some questionable hiring practices which I found out I was fostering, so I left that role and worked in Financial Aid and Student Accounts in a call center or the KCTCS system. 

But it wasn’t really . . . It’s not what I studied WGS for. And it wasn’t my end goal. So, I was there for three years, and then I had the opportunity to transition into a role with Americorp at a domestic violence shelter. I did economic empowerment workshops with in-shelter residents as well as clients that we worked with outside of the shelter. That kind of launched me into knowing that I wanted to work specifically in the field of nonprofits or higher education, and specifically with individuals, and kind of learning more about their experiences, and journeys, and fostering their best foot forward. 

I went to grad school and got a master’s in public administration. And then shortly after that, this role [at the center] was posted. I saw this role after searching for some time for the right fit and, I don’t know, I threw my hat in and I met Dr. Malaklou. Then I knew for sure like, “this is the place,” and I felt like everything that I’ve learned in my journey up until now, has informed this experience. So, all those times when we’re like, “why am I working this job?” or, “why am I doing this? Why am I creating this set of skills? This isn’t what I wanted to do, or what I’m passionate about.” You’ll be surprised to find that you’ll use them a little later on. There’s a benefit to having that strange knowledge that you didn’t think you would need! 

 

Yeah, absolutely! I picked up on kind of a financial aspect, throughout all your careers. Was that on purpose? Have you always been big into financing? 

(Again, Kat smiles and laughs) 

I haven’t actually. I grew up really poor, and especially in college, and right after I made lots of terrible financial decisions. But I think finances are a space where we lack a discussion about expression, and access, and opportunity.  When I was working in a domestic violence shelter, for example, most of my clients had never had a bank account. They’d never balance the checkbook. They didn’t know what it was to budget or manage their credit, so they were already so disadvantaged. Even getting out of the violent household that they’ve lived in and starting fresh and kind of being able to gain the same momentum as individuals who did have those experiences. I think that we gatekeep financial knowledge a lot, and to eliminate that, to eliminate the mysterious cloud that exists around it, I think would really kind of level the playing field for just about everybody. 

 

You mentioned your end goal. Has that changed at all? 

Well, my end goal is to have some form of Pride, Community services, organization, or center in Somerset, but I specifically want to have a center that’s really for all marginalized voices – a space for them to gather and foster programming. To do things like getting help with their FAFSA applications or work with a financial counselor in budgeting workshops and, you know, get mental health and primary care resources. I want to have a place where you can get answers for questions like “who are the trans-friendly doctors in the community?” or, “who do I talk to at the library if I need resources for ‘this’ or ‘this’?” and to be a kind of hub of information for folks who don’t feel super comfortable in every space asking questions and asking for help. This can be their space to do so. 

  

Kat, I won’t take up much more of your time, but I’m wondering, is there an everyday skill that you found translates really well from personal to work life? I’ve found that a lot of folks don’t know how much we do in our day to day which actually makes us incredibly qualified in a lot of fields. 

Oh, I did a lot of music and theater in college that I think has certainly informed, like my programming viewpoint, my appreciation for the arts, and how it reflects life and culture. I would also say I feel like Berea really established a nurturing factor in me. I was an RA for several years and an administrative assistant for several others, and I always felt like we were encouraged to care for each other, and I think that that has certainly translated [to my job]. I don’t think that I had any concept of community engagement prior to Berea and that completely changed my perspective. So, I don’t know, the social activist in me [translates], but most certainly the art, has had a significant impact. 

  

Is there anything else that you want to tell me about your job? 

Well, the best part is meeting students. That’s what this space is really intended to be, aside from a programmatic space, it’s meant to be a space where students can come in and kind of shed the expectations and the stereotypes that are attached to who they are, just be in this space without being perceived or without assumptions. And so, getting to meet the folks who choose to come through our doors and interact with us has been fantastic. They share things with me about the campus and we get to talk a little bit about how things have changed in a decade, and I think some of my experiences as an activist on campus has kind of encouraged others to feel like they can speak out, they could challenge policy, they can, you know, figure out the procedure for doing the thing that they want to do. And I think, really, that’s my favorite part. I love the programming! But when something clicks, and you see it in somebody’s eyes (at this point Kat was beaming as she trailed off, her point perfectly made.) 

 

Want to learn more about Kat? Contact her directly at mosesk2@berea.edu

 

* the bell hooks center honors author bell hooks not only by name but also in grammatical ideology. bell hooks herself chooses to spell her name with lowercase letters to center audience attention on her message, rather than her as the author, and the center chose to follow her lead and legacy by spelling the center name similarly.

By Rowan Swift
Rowan Swift Peer Consultant Rowan Swift