Kelly MoroneyAugust 31, 2021
Kelly Moroney (she/her/hers) is a student affairs professional in the greater St. Louis area. She graduated from Truman in 2017 before going on to complete her Master of Education at Iowa State University in 2019. In her free time, Kelly enjoys exploring new places with her loved ones, binge-watching the newest series on Netflix, planning post-pandemic travels, and spoiling her cat, Beatrice.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated in spring 2017. My concentration within the COMM major was Public Communication and I also completed a minor in French.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
I was involved in a lot of different co-curricular activities including serving as a Student Advisor and Orientation Leader for three years, a Student Ambassador for three and a half years. In addition to these roles I was highly involved in Tau Lambda Sigma (service and social sorority), Lambda Pi Eta (Communication honor society), Pi Delta Phi (French honor society), and NRHH (Residence Hall Honorary organization) for all four years.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
The semester after graduating from Truman I started graduate school at Iowa State University. I began this degree immediately after graduation because my involvement at Truman showed me that I had a passion for helping students be their authentic selves and create a life that would bring them as much joy as my time at Truman brought me. After doing some research on careers in higher education, for me it made the most sense to attend graduate school right away and continue building on the knowledge I had gained in the COMM Department. In spring 2019 I graduated from ISU with a Master of Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs and a Graduate Certificate in Education for Social Justice.
What was your first job after graduation?
During my time in graduate school, I worked as a Graduate Hall Director for two years. I began my first full-time job as a New Student Transitions Coordinator immediately after finishing graduate school in 2019.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I am now in my third year as a New Student Transitions Coordinator at a mid-sized university in Illinois. In this role I am responsible for the coordination and implementation of multiple extended orientation programs (think Truman Week but bigger) each year, assisting with special events, advising a student organization, serving on numerous university committees, and supervising a large student staff including about 60 Orientation Leaders, one Graduate Assistant, and 1-2 interns, among other things. While working as an Orientation Leader for the first time in 2015, I remember thinking “I wish I could do orientation forever,” and this role feels like that wish came true.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
My Liberal Arts and COMM Education has helped me in more ways than I can count. While in the program it helped me to find my own voice, discover areas of interest I didn’t know I had, meet lifelong friends I’m still close to years later, and ultimately it led me to where I am now.
Since graduating, I can honestly say not a day has gone by where I have not used my degree. In my previous and current role, media design (pamphlets, flyers, postcards, etc.), presentations, and continual interactions with both students and colleagues have been regular parts of my life. The COMM Department taught me how to do each of those pieces very well. To this day, I still can remember specific feedback from each instructor and I use it to improve the way I work.
At the same time, the Liberal Arts portion of my degree really prepared me to work with colleagues in all departments across campus as well as students of all majors, by giving me a sense of how other areas work and compliment each other.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
At the time, I was not a fan of Experimental Methods simply because it’s not a topic I am naturally drawn to and I was not totally sure why I needed to take it. Now I’m grateful for it because it prepared me for a challenging assessment course I was required to take my first year of graduate school, and ultimately gave me a good foundation for program assessments I do in my current job every semester.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
For me, my greatest accomplishment at Truman was taking the opportunity to study abroad in France for a semester. Going to France had always been a dream of mine, but an entire semester seemed daunting because I had never even been on a plane before then. Ultimately, I knew I would never again have the opportunity to spend such a long time abroad, focusing only on my language skills and seeing the world, so I decided to take the leap.
Looking back on it now, this experience was one of the most formative I have ever had not only for my French abilities, but for the perspective I gained on the world, lessons I learned about myself, independence/confidence gained, and memories made. When I came back I had a stronger sense of who I was, what I wanted in life, and I felt refreshed as I began my senior year. As someone who was a chronic over-achiever, taking this time for myself was a major accomplishment. There really is no other experience like study abroad so I continue to recommend it to anyone who is able to participate.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
Truman is a great place to study because the academics are rigorous, but there is a lot of support around to help you make the most of your program. From the amazing faculty to campus resources and the close-knit community, there is always someone around to help or to take a break with.
I have never been anywhere else where it has been as easy to strike up conversation with the person next to you and build friendships as it was at Truman. I truly felt that everyone there wanted to help me be the best version of myself, in and out of the classroom. With that balance of challenge and support, I was able to grow in ways I had never imagined. I actually found that during my first year of grad school, I was more prepared for all the reading and writing involved than a number of my cohort members (classmates).
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
I would say what every COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman is make the experience their own. One of the best parts of being a COMM major is that it provides you with knowledge and skills that are transferable to anything else you could want to do now or later in life. As someone with a wide variety of interests, I always thought I was able to nurture each one and they only enhanced my time in the classroom. The COMM department tied everything I learned through my extra-curriculars together. If you are someone who really wants to focus on a specific area within COMM, do it! If you want to explore how your other interests can relate, do it! This department makes it easy for you to make your time at Truman unique to you.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
For anyone wanting to work in higher education, I highly recommend finding at least one mentor you trust. Mentors can be faculty, staff, students who are older than you, etc. Having people in our corner who are not only invested in your growth and development, but who can get you connected to people in the field really helps! In my experience, getting involved in things that interest you makes it really easy to find mentors.
As I got closer to graduation, I had a lot of folks in and out of the COMM Department helping me figure out what my next steps should be, working on grad school applications with me, writing reference letters, conducting mock interviews for assistantships, dropping off unexpected chocolates and notes of encouragement at my door, and even nursing me back to health when I got sick the week of my biggest interview. These were all people who knew me well just from all the time we spent together in class, advising meetings, and activities over the years so don’t stress about finding your mentor(s). If you work to nurture the things that interest you, you will undoubtedly build a strong community that will nurture you back and help you get where you want to go.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
I really miss the close-knit campus community and the regular, but impromptu, gatherings with friends across campus. Everywhere I went I was bound to run into a friend, which gave me a strong sense of belonging I have not experienced since. I still keep in touch with many of those friends to this day, but something about being all together on campus felt really special to me.
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“Communication: The ‘Mary Poppins Bag’ of Truman.”
For those not familiar with Mary Poppins, she is a fictional nanny who carries a magic bag. This bag has endless space inside and can give you seemingly any item you want. For me this is representative of the endless possibilities at your fingertips with a COMM degree from Truman.
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
My class would be called “Jammin’ on my Planner” and would analyze the ways in which we can derive lessons on organization and prioritization skills from Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope. This is an actual presentation I give with student leaders in my current role, based on lessons in these areas I learned as a result of my time at Truman.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
One thing I think is important for people to know is the value of utilizing faculty office hours. In my current role, one of the most commonly given pieces of advice by my students at orientation is to go to office hours if you have questions. As someone who utilized office hours for most of my classes, I can tell you from experience that they excel at what they do and truly want every student to succeed. Even just stopping by to say hello really increased my sense of belonging and allowed me to thrive in the program because I always felt comfortable asking for what I needed.