As the daughter of two librarians, Abigail Moore spent much of her life surrounded by books. But it wasn’t until arriving at Roosevelt University that she truly began to embrace them.
“My mom brought home the big book of colleges from the library, and I stumbled on Roosevelt in there.” She wasn’t 100% sure what social justice meant, but she liked the way it sounded. Growing up in Mansfield, Ohio, a town of about 47,000 residents, Moore had seen plenty of racial diversity, but she found her hometown to be “fairly segregated.”
“I wanted to go to a place with opportunity, and I saw that Roosevelt had a reputation for diversity.” The downtown Chicago campus sealed the deal, and upon arriving at Roosevelt, she immediately noticed a difference in the environment. “Seeing the way people from different walks of life and with different experiences interact together here is amazing," Moore said.
Moore briefly considered studying chemistry or art, eyeing a possible career in art restoration. But it was a Sociology 101 course at Roosevelt taught by Assistant Professor Stephanie Farmer that turned Moore in a new direction. She declared her major as sociology not long after.
At Roosevelt, Moore knew she wanted to get involved with extracurricular groups. “When I got to Roosevelt, I was really ready to fully experience school and commit to my studies and the college experience.” She quickly became involved with the Roosevelt chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP,) an international student-run group dedicated to advocating for drug policy reform. She currently serves as the Co-President of Roosevelt’s chapter. “People have this common misconception that SSDP is like D.A.R.E., but it’s nothing like that. It’s focused on policy and the systematic problems that revolve around the issues.”
Through her involvement in SSDP, Moore has travelled to Washington, DC twice to lobby lawmakers to alter drug policies. She has also been to San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles and Albuquerque for SSDP conferences. For Moore, the experience of lobbying was nerve-wracking at first. “It’s intimidating, but once you get into their offices, you become surprisingly calm. It’s funny, because sometimes you forget that you are their constituent. You know the same streets as them, and sometimes the same people.”
Through SSDP, Moore also became involved in Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt’s Institute for Metropolitan Affairs, where she currently holds a work-study position. “It’s research, research, research, and I love research!”
Under Moore’s guidance, Roosevelt’s SSDP chapter helped organize the biggest rally in the nation for the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of the so-called “war on drugs.” The rally, which took place at the downtown Thompson Center last year, drew a crowd of about 500. Roosevelt also played host last year to SSDP’s Midwest Regional Conference, for which Moore recruited more than 20 speakers who generously donated their time to appear at the event. This March, Moore’s efforts culminated in Roosevelt’s SSDP chapter being awarded Outstanding Chapter of the Year for the entire SSDP organization. “When you go to an SSDP conference and you tell someone you go to Roosevelt, they have this huge reaction, and we’ve worked really hard to earn that reputation.”
Currently, SSDP is working on implementing changes to Roosevelt’s student handbook to ensure that students living on campus can report situations like alcohol poisoning without fear of punishment or repercussions. This proposed change is based on student feedback—Moore wants to foster an environment where students feel comfortable enlisting SSDP to help with implementing beneficial changes.
Moore is currently completing an internship at the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, a non-profit organization working to foster diversity and aid real estate growth in Oak Park, and throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan region.
After graduation, Moore sees herself continuing with policy work, but she has other ambitions as well. She may pursue a graduate degree in public policy. She has taken an interest in public transit reform in particular.. She has also considered teaching English abroad, possibly in an Arabic speaking country. All of which are interests she could never have imagined before her time at Roosevelt.
“There are an amazing amount of resources at Roosevelt to enhance your experience and grow your interests. Every student should take advantage of them,” Moore said.
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