On the surface, Howard University public relations major sophomore Karen Moore is like several other college students with a busy schedule. When she is not the on-air personality for student-run radio station WHBC's "Midday or carrying out her duties as secretary for Howard University's Public Relations Student Society of America, she's juggling three to four hours of schoolwork each night.
Still, you can find Moore from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Northwest D.C. doing something that many college students do not do-using her spare time to give back to her community through tutoring.
Karen Moore, 23, grew up in San Francisco as the youngest of four siblings. "Most people say all city lives are the same," says Moore of her childhood, "but growing up in San Francisco was way different…. "It's more of a family-knit kind of city because everybody knows everybody."
After graduating from high school, Moore went to Southern University in Louisiana, but she did not feel academically stimulated. After three years there, she decided to transfer to Howard. "Howard challenges you to want to get a career, and to want to become something in life," says Moore on her reasons for transferring. Howard is also where she first found out about the opportunity to give back to her new community in D.C.
Moore was looking for work-study programs after transferring to Howard and found her perfect match with the program, DC Reads, a university-based program that sends students from Howard and other D.C. area universities to tutor children at local elementary schools. Moore immediately knew that this was what she wanted to do because of her prior experience with tutoring.
Moore's niece, Essence White, was diagnosed with severe dyslexia when she was young and Moore took it upon herself to teach her how to read and write properly. Thanks to Moore's help, White is now on the honor roll and a part of a leadership academy program at her high school. "A couple of weeks ago they spoke at city hall about their experiences and who helped them get to where they are, and I was the only person who she mentioned," Moore says of her niece. That's when she realized the power she had to change people's lives, just by tutoring them.
Moore now tutors second, third and fourth graders – many of who are bilingual – basic phonics and grammar as well as how to read and speak in English. And even when she's exhausted after a long day, Moore still looks forward to seeing her students."Every time I go to work the kids say, 'I want to work with Ms. Karen. Can Ms. Karen help me?'" says Moore, "It's showing me that I'm actually doing something that's helping them learn."