As Associate Director of Financial Aid Kristin Moore worked on her usual tasks of reading files and responding to emails, a student came in and asked for help finding a job. After she talked to him and called the office he was interested in, he walked out with an interview scheduled for the next day. Another student stopped by later in the day to talk about her summer class choices and how to save money.
“I love the students,” Moore said. “I met the students on the first day and I thought, ‘You are intelligent beyond belief, and driven, and quirky, and funny,’ and I loved it.”
Moore’s close relationships with many students is reflected on the bulletin board behind her desk, covered with postcards from all over the world. Though as a student athlete she couldn’t study abroad in college, Moore relishes the postcards she receives from students whom she helped to study abroad. One of the postcards shows llamas from Peru, another lions in Tanzania, drinking water with their mouths covered in blood.
“I’m never going to go to the Sudan and fight for women’s rights. I’m not going to go to India and proclaim that education should be equitable among the genders,” she said. “But I get to sit behind this tiny little desk and help you, as a student, get this amazing opportunity.”
She also puts up thank you notes from families and even some from students who chose not to attend Swarthmore. She stays in touch with some of these students and answers any questions they might have as they adjust to college.
“If I have a bad day or have a moment when I can’t give the family the exact news that they want, I can still have confidence in our process,” Moore said. “And I have faith that, thoughtfully, we have made decisions and unfortunately, this isn’t the best for this family. But I still know more than not, I do a lot of good.”
As part of her usual responsibilities, Moore handles students and prospective students with last names H through O, reading their files to determine aid and helping them navigate the aid application process. In addition, she works with the College Access Center to help local high school students understand the financial aid process.
“I just try to highlight that the process is doable and that this shouldn’t be an inhibitor in going to college,” she said. “This should be the last thing that stops you.”
Before she started working at Swarthmore, Moore attended St. Francis University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania for graduate school. At IUP, she had the opportunity to work at the financial aid office, where she became familiar with the process.
“When I stuck my hand in it in grad school, I got a real sense of what I could do that didn’t happen for me,” Moore said. “As grateful as I am for my opportunities and the way things worked out, I really felt like I could use what I had learned and where I had come from to help students on a very simple level.”
After majoring in psychology and receiving a master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education, she was hired at Swarthmore in 2002 because of her humanistic approach.
“It was really thrilling for me to be able to see where I came from, this small town, and yet I help give out millions and millions in scholarship every year. Over the 13 years, I would love to know how much scholarship I’ve helped to give out to students.”
Moore also said she likes how much freedom she has to support students instead of having to do strictly paperwork.
Moore added that she wants students to be financially informed and empowered when they leave Swarthmore. She typically sees two to five students a day and helps them with whatever they need, including finding a job, taking care of student loan payments, and saving for study abroad in advance.
Moore said she only accepts social media friend requests once students graduate and often stays in touch with them. When alumni come to visit her on campus, she likes to have lunch with them and catch up. Because she used to offer to buy them apple juice in case they didn’t like coffee, some of these students like to make fun of her, she said.
“The joke is that these alumni will come in and say, ‘I’ll take you to the coffee bar, but I won’t buy you coffee, I’ll buy you apple juice,’” Moore said.
Moore also said that she loves the campus, the administration, and the people she works with.
“There’s not much about this job that I don’t like, let’s put it that way,” she said.
Before she came to Swarthmore, Moore spent most of her life in Johnstown in Western Pennsylvania, a small rural town around four and a half hours away. She describes her hometown as a simple, conservative place that people call “Pennsyltucky,” a term that combines Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
“I didn’t come to Swarthmore [as a student]. Believe me, it would have been way too much as an 18, 19, 20-year-old. But as a young adult, [working at Swarthmore] gave me a lot of intellectual freedom that I didn’t have elsewhere,” she said. “I very much respect my parents, and I don’t at all fault them for their beliefs or their judgements, but I get to be here and choose differently.”
Moore has a younger brother back home and a younger sister in Pittsburgh she texts frequently.
“I miss my family, but you guys are kind of my family, if that makes any sense. And I get to know your families, your whole family story,” she said. “I feel like I have families here and families there.”
Outside of her work, Moore enjoys hiking, going into the city and playing volleyball and softball as part of social leagues in Philadelphia. She has two foster dogs, Rookie and Booker, that like to hang out in her office.
“I’m known as the crazy dog lady… Students will just stop in and say, ‘do you have a dog today?’ and I love that,” Moore said. “This isn’t the financial aid evil office. It’s just another everyday office. Just stop in and say hello.”