If anyone had lived the life that Touro College Administrative Assistant Lorinda Moore’s lived up to this point, they might not survive. But Moore is stronger than your average individual, and she wants to bring that strength to fellow Black and Brown New Yorkers.
“I started coming into myself as I got older,” said Moore when speaking with the AmNews. Needless to say, that’s an overstatement.
Moore is currently working on her second master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology at Touro College. She wants to help people in her neighborhood start their own businesses and get homeless people out of shelters. Moore knows about the homeless experience firsthand: She lived in one with her sister and her son for two and a half years.
The 52-year-old’s journey to this point in her life wasn’t easy. Born in the Bronx, Moore currently calls the Polo Ground Houses in Harlem her home. Moore’s strength found its foundation in childhood, where her strict parents emphasized education. Moore spent summers with relatives in the South, and that “out-of-the-Bronx” experience opened her to new attitudes and new ways of living. It also opened her up to teasing from school kids once she made it back north.
“I had a little difficulty,” said Moore when speaking to the f. “I never fit in and always stayed under the teachers [in school] because that was a safe place. I got picked on and wrote poetry, [which] became my savior in junior high when a teacher told me my writing was good.”
While working at a furniture store, Moore ran into a woman who put together shows and poetry readings. “I told her that I do poetry,” she said. That impromptu meeting resulted in her hosting shows at the Manhattan Center, where acts like the Chi-Lites would perform. Moore hosted a variety show and did poetry and hosted shows in clubs around the city. Her experiences led her to appearances on local radio stations, public access cable channels like Bronxnet and MNN TV and Channel 9 WWOR-TV. She went by the name “Lady Moore.”
But Moore encountered sets of extenuating circumstances that could’ve stopped anyone’s upward swing. Her father passed away and her mother became ill, which led to Moore giving up her apartment to take care of her mother. However, since she wasn’t a registered nurse, the city told her to put her mom in a nursing home. From there, her mom was transferred to multiple hospitals like St. Vincent’s and Beth Abraham.
While working, Moore had several stops and starts at Monroe College and Baruch College, but personal issues always got in the way.
“I attended straight out of high school and went to Baruch but got sick. When I attended Monroe, my father had another heart attack, my grandma had congestive heart failure and my mom went blind.”
Moore was also diagnosed with cervical cancer and has had over a dozen procedures due to her condition. But the cold, hard hand of life wasn’t done with her yet.
“When my mother passed away, we inherited the house that she had,” said Moore. But there were credit issues regarding the apartment she had left to help take care of her mother when she got sick, and they left her in dire straits.
Moore, her sister and her son ended up spending time in homeless shelters around the city, but she took advantage of her time there. She got her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and made the dean’s list every semester.
But with the good comes the bad. Moore also survived a near fatal auto accident on Long Island, had foot neuropathy and lost her eyesight on three different occasions. There was talk that she would never walk again, but she was determined to receive her bachelor’s in style.
“The Robert Beilsky [Special Recognition] Award goes to the student who overcomes the most difficulties. My prayer was to be able to walk across that stage. And I did. Everybody started crying. I got a standing ovation from front to back.”
Currently, Moore is working on getting multiple degrees after many false beginnings.
“I plan to go get a PhD, however, it is too late to go for it in the interim of getting my MBA,” said Moore. “I want to go to Touro’s grad school of psychology for my second masters, and I hope to be able to take the summer semester off to take the GRE and get into the PhD program when it starts in 2015.”
But why the continued fight for academic achievement? Why not coast on one or two degrees? Moore said that there are too many people out there she needs to help.
“I’ve been disabled, blind and homeless,” she said. “I’ve been through things too personal to discuss here. In my neighborhoods, I see young people robbing and selling drugs. I want to open a center where I can provide housing and counseling for them. I need all these letters behind my name so when I walk into the board room, they will take me seriously. The young people need to see that.
“I’ve seen these yuppies walk into our neighborhoods and get money to help and not do anything,” said Moore. “Touro has been my backbone. God has been my inspiration. I came here and found family. They stood by me, gave me advice and were willing to help me grow because I had my desire.”
Moore now lives her life by one message, and it’s a message she believes all people need to hear, especially Black folks.
“If the opportunity doesn’t present itself, then we must create the opportunity.”