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WGU Mentor Uses Marine & Culinary Training to Help Business Students

2/21/2013 12:36 pm

Chef Moore

It doesn’t matter if James Moore is cooking up a culinary masterpiece, working as an IT consultant, or guiding his WGU students toward graduation, he approaches all of his work with expertise and enthusiasm.  

"I don’t do anything halfway," James said. "Life is really about what you make of it, and I do everything I can to make the most of it."

James applies that principle to his work with students pursuing an online business degree. They count on him for guidance, advice, and motivation.

"No day is ever the same—and for that matter, no week is every the same—because you always deal with something different," he said.

"Different" is a good word to describe James’ journey to Western Governors University. It includes six years of service in the Marine Corps as well as time working in the culinary and IT industries.

"I was once an executive pastry chef," James said. "I worked in several restaurants, designed some kitchen layouts, conducted research and development, and tested recipes."

Following a career as a chef, James decided to take another job in IT and go back to school to earn a master’s degree. While pursuing that degree, he rediscovered a passion for learning and went on to earn a doctorate in business administration.

Now, he works in Arizona as a business mentor for WGU, and he also does IT consulting and owns Classy Tea Company, a high-end tea business.

"It’s all about staying organized," said James. "I find the busier I am, the better I do. I share that with my students by explaining the contrast between goals and missions. Goals are short term and can be reset if you fall short. Missions determine the outcome of your life and should be treated with special care. I try to impress upon my student team the importance of treating school like a mission."

Helping students complete that mission is what James enjoys most about his work for WGU. Like most mentors at the online, competency-based university, he’s invested in each student’s success—not only at school, but in life.

"You stand behind your students when they face setbacks, and you celebrate with them they get a promotion, have a baby, or successfully complete a course. This is an experience you don’t get at other universities. It’s one of the things I love most about WGU."

James also enjoys the flexibility he has as a student mentor; it’s something that makes it easy for him to spend as much time as possible with his son, Malik. The father and son love to cook together, and James pushes Malik to do well in school, hoping it will help the 9-year-old be ready for whatever life throws at him down the road.

Whether James is supporting his son or helping WGU students, he tries to adapt. He can be a coach, a cheerleader, a listening ear—whatever the need, he finds a way to fill it.

"I think a lot of the students I mentor," James said. "I’m willing to run as fast as they want to go because our relationship is a partnership: They take on a challenge, and I help them figure out how to solve it."

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