Joy Moore: Positive Impact of Jesuit Ideals

by Erin Anderson


On Tuesday, March 18, Agape Latte hosted their monthly event, which featured Boston College alumnus Joy Moore. Moore, who graduated from the Lynch School of Education in 1981 and afterwards went on to be Head Interim for The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, has returned to Boston College and currently works in the alumni office as Director of stewardship and donor relations. It was during her time in LA when Moore received the opportunity to be deputy head of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, which opened in January 2007. After going through a long and arduous interview process, she signed a six-month contract to go to South Africa. Once Moore accepted the job offer, she found herself three weeks later in Henley-on-Kip, South Africa. Located on a new continent she knew little about, Moore called upon her faith to help.

Although a great opportunity, Moore struggled with the difficult decision to leave her family and a secure job behind for six-months. However, Moore’s immense faith eased her worry and provided her with comfort that her family- husband Robert, son Christopher, 22, and daughter Amanda, 19- would operate fine without her presence. Thanks to Moore’s admirable faith, she was able follow the call that drew her to accept the amazing opportunity in Africa.


Moore said the Jesuit ideals that she acquired during her time at Boston College greatly impacted and eased her transition during this time. According to Moore, she believed more in herself because of the unique Jesuit influence. Ultimately, this Jesuit-instilled confidence set her on her path to do things she may not have otherwise done, such as applying and accepting the deputy head position. As it turned out, her six-month contract turned into a four-year adventure where Joy grew spiritually, personally, and professionally.


As head interim, it was Moore’s responsibility to provide a smooth transition of the newly established institution into a boarding school for young women. Moore called upon her previous experience as head interim in Los Angeles, yet found school philosophy in Africa very different than American schools. This difference proved difficult for both Moore and Oprah as they attempted to blend the African and American school cultures together and navigated the unknowns of teaching and housing 150 students in a foreign country.


Moore’s strong faith played a crucial part in helping her overcome many unforeseen difficulties. Moore recounted the introduction of cellphones at the Academy as an especially difficult hurdle to overcome. Although the girls now possessed the ability to communicate with their families on a daily basis, the contact caused the girls immense guilt as they now had great privilege. The girls were provided an abundance of food on a daily basis while their siblings and parents may not have eaten that day. Moore prayed nightly for guidance of how to console the girls and gain their trust. To help them overcome their challenges she had one on one meetings with the students and made sure the girls knew she was there for them.


When asked the biggest takeaway from her experience as head interim at the Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls, Moore responded that the philosophy of “there is no bar” was fully embodied during her time in Africa. Each day she was pushed by Oprah, her peers, and herself to work harder and constantly discern what she could do better. Although grateful for her unique experience in Africa, Moore is happy to be back at Boston College and give back to the community that Moore said gave her so much.


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