• YEAR: Ph.D. Candidate
  • MAJOR: American Studies
  • HOMETOWN: Buffalo, New York

Heather Cherie Moore

Affirm. Acknowledge. Allow. When it comes to empowering young African-Americans, Heather Moore has a three-step process: affirm their experiences; acknowledge their brilliance; and allow them to speak for themselves in a safe environment.

Heather's passion is to mentor and empower young African-Americans, particularly young men. She is committed to this in both her scholarship and her work in the community.

Buffalo's daughter

Heather says if she were to write a book about her life so far, she would call it "Beyond Hazelwood: Narratives of Buffalo's Daughter." Heather grew up on Hazelwood Street on the east side of Buffalo, New York, and believes her experiences there helped transform her into the person she is today.

"I was not always a top student and I did not come from the privileged side of the city," Heather says. "But I think I can be a role model for kids of color growing up in Buffalo because I made it out and often go back because I love my hometown. My motto is that imperfect individuals can provide impactful testimony."

Community connections

In 2011, Heather started the Black E.L.M. Project at Jefferson High School in Lafayette. Heather's goal is to help black young men through education, leadership and mentorship. She meets with the students weekly at the Black Cultural Center and discusses issues and materials that are not typically a part of their formal high school education. Heather also leads a similar program in her hometown of Buffalo.

"The program provides a student-centered environment where we have conversations about real-life issues and how these young men see themselves," Heather says. "The program allows black males to take ownership over their lives and allows them to be leaders."

Purdue proud

Heather says she chose Purdue for her graduate studies because of the quality of the American Studies program — which she says helps her to understand diverse perspectives and apply that knowledge to her outreach efforts in the community.

But Heather says being a member of the Purdue community is about much more than just attending classes and earning a degree.

"The essence of a Boilermaker to me is someone who takes whatever background they have and lets their work ethic speak to what they do and their character. That helps us make the world a better place," Heather says.

Looking to the future

"I plan to use my Purdue degree in two different ways. First, I would like to be a professor at a liberal arts institution," Heather says. "My long-term goal is to become a CEO of a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to the holistic development of black males from birth to childhood."