A native of Arizona, Tim Moore didn’t settle in North Carolina until he retired from his military service.

“I fell in love with the foothills area when I was getting out of the service, so this is where I’ve established roots and set forth my walk,” said Moore, whose home in Clemmons, NC, is a two-hour drive east along I-40 from the campus of Montreat College.

Following an injury in the line of duty as a Chinook helicopter mechanic, Moore medically retired from the service and found himself stuck in dead-end jobs. Inside though, he knew he wanted to get into the advocacy field to assist veterans, so he enrolled in a community college, opened up his books, rolled up his sleeves, and began working on a new career trajectory.

“You can’t really do advocacy without some kind of piece of paper hanging on the wall behind you,” Moore said.

Thanks to a personal drive to better his circumstances, as well as a chance encounter, Moore has found his purpose is going from a one-time high school dropout to a dual master’s candidate working on his third degree through Montreat College’s School of Adult and Graduate Studies (AGS). Along the way, his dedication and Montreat’s impactful programs have paid off as his career has advanced with his degrees.

“So now I’ve worked in county government, state government, and now I’m in federal government,” Moore said, reflecting on his transformative experience at Montreat College. “I’ve just watched my career path grow exponentially beyond my wildest dreams. Through Montreat, I was able to learn all the information I needed, while developing my faith and incorporating Christ into my learning. It’s given me a bigger projection for what my future would have otherwise held, and my story’s not done just yet.”

How did you learn about Montreat College?
By the time I started at Montreat, I was already well on my way in my career of advocating for veterans. I had been working with a local nonprofit for about two and a half years, helping veterans find employment opportunities. That paved the way for me to get into a state position as a district manager for the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

At the time, I was honing in on my education and what degree program I wanted to pursue for my undergraduate. I already knew that I wanted to go to a Christian-based, faith-based program. When I was at a resource fair, I met a recruiter for Montreat saying, “Hey, give us a look.” I did a lot of research on a multitude of different programs, and I decided on the Psychology and Human Services program that Montreat offers. Ultimately, the deciding factor was the availability to do my internship through my current employer, and choosing Montreat College was the best decision for my life.

Why did you drop out of high school?
I was in Advanced Placement courses all through high school. I was just bored. That’s really what it was. I wasn’t stimulated. I didn’t like being told what to learn, and that’s one thing that’s great about higher education is you get to choose what you want to learn.

What was it like to start going to school again?
I didn’t return to school until my 30s. I’m incredibly grateful for Montreat’s online AGS program because I didn’t have to be sitting in a classroom with 18 or 19-year-old kids who have a different life experience and worldview than me. I also didn’t want to go to a school and have their agenda crammed down my throat. I had a personal desire and a drive at that point, and I knew where I wanted to go in life.

How did Montreat’s program help you balance a full-time job, school, and parenthood?
I’m a single parent with custody of my two children. My children are now 11 and 13 next month. Even with consistently being in school the last six years, we still have time for vacations. We still have time to go out, enjoy life, and grow as a family. That’s been huge for me that my studies haven’t been so time consuming that I can’t function elsewhere.

When my children were younger, I put them to bed, and then I would sit down every night and get digging. Now that they are older, they can get themselves ready for bed, but I’ve kept that same momentum.

Usually, I’ll sit down and look at my coursework, map out a plan, and create a timeline. Typically, if I spend between an hour and two a night—sometimes a little bit longer depending on how lengthy the assignment is—I’ve been able to meet all the deadlines pretty easily just by having that timeline set out for me.

The structure of the five or six weeks for the undergraduate and then one class per eight weeks for the master’s programs really simplified things for me. It allowed me to focus completely on the classes I have instead of trying to juggle everything over a 16-week time span.

What degrees have you successfully completed at Montreat College?
I completed my undergraduate with Montreat for Psychology and Human Services in 2021, and then I decided, “Why stop here?” I completed my undergraduate work on a Sunday, and my next class for my master’s program started the very following Monday, so I went straight into my master’s in public administration (MPA). For me, the selling point with getting my MPA at Montreat was that I already knew the structure. I already knew how the program was going to be mapped out.

What separates Montreat College from other schools?
One of the biggest things I enjoyed about both programs was the Christian fundamentals and being able to incorporate and tie into my learning various biblical principles. One of my favorite classes was a servant leadership class I took for the Psychology and Human Services program. I was able to learn how to be a servant leader and apply the talents God has given me.

I’ve also been able to consistently adapt my learning to my current field, so I can take what I’m learning and set myself up for future success. For example, in almost all of my papers where I had some creativity or some freedom in my topic, I ran with it, and everything could be VA-related, veteran-related, or military-related.

What topic did you research for your master’s thesis?
My thesis was on the need for policy reform for the VA pension program. The last time the pension program was addressed was in 1973, so it’s a very antiquated law. I saw that it was a broken system, and there was a need to have it addressed. I started pulling some preliminary data, started giving synopses of the different circumstances where some may think they’ve qualified for a benefit but because of a loophole or an antiquated procedure or policy, now they’re no longer eligible. For some veterans, that could be the difference between being able to survive and being on the brink of homelessness, so my thesis ultimately presented a few different alternatives on how to better bring this policy into the 21st century.

I asked my boss, “Where can I take this?” She plugged me in with one of her superiors, and now it’s really amazing that something that was just a brainchild of mine and a passion of mine is now in the hands of someone who may potentially be able to say, there’s something significant there.

Did you attend the graduation ceremony at Montreat College?
After high school, I did eventually finish my high school diploma, but my family had not seen me graduate or walk. Because of that, I was incredibly amped about getting my undergraduate degree, but then with COVID restrictions, the actual ceremony didn’t happen. My family did come for my master’s graduation though, so the first time they saw me graduate was with a master’s degree.

What’s your next educational goal?
After I completed my master’s degree, I still had some education benefits available to me through the military. I toyed around with the idea of a juris doctorate. Instead, I decided to come back to Montreat for the Management and Leadership program. Classes have just recently started, so I am now all in on a second master’s, which is great. I’m super excited to be able to continue my education and my learning path.

I feel like these management and leadership courses are going to give me that extra push to where I can get into some of those higher echelons within the VA because now, not only do I have the experience, but I also have the education to back it.

What advice do you have for someone considering Montreat’s AGS program?
You’re worth it for your own investment. If someone is considering going back to school, you know he or she is investing in his or her future. You need to realize that you are worth it and know that the staff and the programs at Montreat College are designed for your success.