Area Resident Boosts Community with Education Degrees from Clarion

Jessica Moore (Photo provided)

Since Jessica Moore earned her education degrees from Clarion University she’s done plenty to give back to her community.

The Clarion resident has worked as a support teacher at five area schools. She’s served as a developmental specialist at UPMC Northwest. Last July, Jess took her biggest step yet when she became director of operations at Service Access and Management, Inc., a nonprofit organization that manages many human services on behalf of Clarion County Mental Health/Mental Retardation.

“It’s most certainly been a challenge,” says Jessica, age 36. “Often, I work up to 50 hours a week doing everything from monitoring budgets and giving community presentations to interacting with interns. The job requires lots of time management. But I sure love what I do.”

Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Clarion in December 1996. Amid her first teaching job at Olean Middle School in Olean, New York, Jessica returned to the university in early 1997 to pursue her master’s degree in Special Education. Since finishing that degree in 2000, Jessica has continued to take graduate-level courses in Special Education and Rehabilitative Sciences at Clarion. Luckily for Jessica, many of those courses were available online.

“My online experience at Clarion went very well,” she recalls. “As a parent and a full-time worker, there is no way I could have continued my education unless it were on my own time in an online format. Both degrees required me to take a number of courses in the Rehabilitative Sciences program. I didn’t realize it at the time, but all of those courses applied directly to my future, and to the job I am doing now.”

Jessica notes that one of her favorite courses was “Administering Rehabilitation Delivery Systems” taught by Dr. Ray Feroz. “At first, I thought I would be intimidated because I didn’t know much about accounting or anything related to business,” she says. “But the course was structured so that people like me could easily understand it. Dr. Feroz was a wonderful instructor.”           

In her current position with Service Access and Management, Inc, Jessica is the program administrator for delivery of all mental health services and mental retardation  services provided by Service access and Management, Inc. in Clarion County. According to Clarion professor Dr. Greg Clary, the position draws heavily upon what she learned in the Rehabilitative Sciences program at Clarion University.

 “Jessica’s job is closely related to her degree work, especially in terms of coordinating community-based services for services for youth and adults with developmental disabilities,” he says. “In our degree program, we emphasize the Recovery Model, which asserts that people with mental health issues have the capacity to manage their own lives and become an active participant in their own recovery. That model has been endorsed by the state of Pennsylvania, and by Service Access and Management, Inc. in Clarion County.”         

Beyond the classroom, Greg works alongside Jessica as a member of the Clarion County Mental Health/Mental Retardation Board. “I have been impressed by her knowledge and competence,” he notes. “Jessica appears to be a very good administrator. Clarion County is lucky to have her.”   

Clarion University’s Master of Rehabilitative Science program prepares students to work in a range of human services positions within their communities. Graduates are qualified to work as mental health case managers, drug and alcohol counselors, probation and parole officers, and  intervention specialists with area agencies on aging and assisted living facilities. Many students are mid-career human services professionals looking to advance their careers with the additional credential that the master’s degree provides.      

“We address the entire gamut of generalist human services delivery in this program.” Clary says. Students can also expect personal interaction and individualized attention from all of our faculty.”

According to Clary, online coursework enables people who are committed to staying in their communities to pursue a master’s degree at home, instead of having to commute or live on campus for two years or more. “We have a number of students from places like Forest County or in the Northern Tier area of the state,” he says. “It would be a huge burden for them to commute to Clarion. This program also allows full-time professionals to tend to their job responsibilities while they complete their graduate degrees.”

To further strengthen the connection between the college degree and employment in local communities, Jessica works with Clarion faculty to utilize interns from the Rehabilitative Sciences program at Service Access and Management, Inc. Here, interns gain hands-on field experience, which is a requirement of the program. “Dr. Clary has been instrumental in corresponding with us and placing his students in appropriate positions,” she recalls. “He seems to know his students really well, and know where they would be best served.”

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