Michael Moore is a rising junior in the LSU Honors College. He’s a History and Philosophy double major, and involved in church, service, and sports. It’s the last activity in particular that’s helped him line up some pretty amazing summer plans: playing with the US Paralympic National Soccer team in a tournament in Barcelona, Spain.
Tell me a little bit about where you’re from, how you ended up at LSU…
I was born in New Orleans. We moved out of the city when I was six—my father was a professor at Tulane, and he got a job in Dallas. So I grew up in Plano, TX, but I always had a love of New Orleans—lots of friends there, I was a Saints fan—so we would go back and visit. Did a spring break trip there rebuilding homes after Hurricane Katrina.
When it came time to apply to college, I felt a pull to get out of the state of Texas. But in order for me to go to school out of state, that school had to be affordable. I applied to LSU—I applied to Tulane, too—and I got a substantial scholarship from LSU. Out-of-state and affordable—that was huge. I took a visit, went to SPIN [LSU’s Spring Invitational weekend for prospective students] and I really just loved the campus, loved the school, loved the Honors College.
Affordability was definitely the biggest factor in my decision. But I think it helped my parents to know that I was also going to be in the Honors College. Because they knew it was a more unique situation—they knew that I would be in good hands. It was the fact that I had been accepted into the Honors College that made the decision a pretty easy one.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome during your time at LSU?
I think the biggest obstacle was just getting myself integrated into the campus. I was the only person in my high school that came to LSU, so I didn’t know anybody, really. I had met some people at SPIN, but didn’t, you know, get their phone numbers or anything. So just getting on campus and really figuring out where and how I wanted to spend my four years here was huge. The biggest thing is to shrink the campus. LSU can be huge and overwhelming, and being a part of various organizations can really shrink the campus down and help you meet totally different groups of people. Living in Laville [the Honors College residence halls] has definitely been a part of it. The Honors College brings in speakers to Laville to give talks, and you’re living with students who are in a lot of the same Honors classes as you, so it’s a great living environment. That’s a huge benefit I’ve gotten to enjoy.
What else are you involved in on campus?
The organizations I’m involved in are the other part of how I’ve met my closest friends. The Christian ministry—the Reformed University Fellowship on campus, connected with a local Presbyterian church—is one, and Volunteer LSU has been another. At Volunteer LSU we have multiple focus-area chairs—Health and Wellness, Youth and Education, and so on—and I’m the Civic Awareness and Engagement chair. My job is to plan and implement projects for students. Not being from Baton Rouge, I’ve enjoyed getting to know different charities around the city and locally—they’re doing great work and they need to have students come work with them and for them.
What’s a specific project you’ve participated in or led through Volunteer LSU?
So for example, we have partnered with Native American communities in Louisiana. We went down to the United Houma Nation—this was under the previous Civic Awareness chair, Ed Lo, who is an Honors College grad now—and helped with certain cleanup and building projects. It was an amazing opportunity to get to learn about the Houma tribe and about a totally different culture than my own. So when I came on as chair I wanted to continue these kinds of projects. We’re going to stay overnight in the same location next spring, and it should be even more immersive. I think it really matters to have the chance to expand your horizons. We should all try to have at least an understanding of different lives and different experiences than just those of the average LSU student.
I also hear you play soccer.
I grew up playing soccer—played in rec leagues until 8th grade, when I stopped playing competitively to focus more on school. Soccer was a lot of fun but it was never going to be something that would get me into college. I kept playing pickup games, and my senior year I helped to coach the JV team at my high school. It’s just always been my favorite sport.
I was born with a form of cerebral palsy called Hemiparesis [weakness on one side of the body]. The right side of my body is affected. I never thought that much about it. But this year, after the Winter Games wrapped up, they started the Paralympic Games in Sochi. And I said, I don’t know much about that. Some Googling led to the qualifications for being a Paralympic player, which I meet. I got in touch with the head coach and he asked me to send in a video of my basic soccer skills. And he called in the middle of March and said, We’ve got a camp coming up, we’d like to fly you out to the Olympic Training Center and see how things go. So that was my first involvement with the team. I did well enough for them to bring me out for another camp at the end of April and ultimately to this tournament in Barcelona at the end of June—it’s seven-a-side soccer. Able-bodied soccer is played eleven a side. For the most part, though, we’re, you know, playing soccer! The basic tenets of the game are unchanged.
What do you think your future will be on the team?
I’m definitely one of the newest members of the team—there are guys on the team that have been involved for over a decade. They’ve been really welcoming, helping me get acclimated. I’d like to say I’m part of the Paralympic program now, but I’m certainly not complacent. I’ve made a good solid start but I’m always looking to get better. I’m just hoping that in this tournament I can make my case for being part of further camps and tournaments and team play.
What are your long term goals—besides playing soccer, of course?
I’m certainly looking to graduate with College Honors. I’d like to write an Honors Thesis in History. I got to see some friends who were seniors this year go through the Honors Thesis process and one of the main things I took away from them was: start as early as possible! So while it’s a long way away, I’ve already kind of started to think about what I might like to research.
After college, I’d like to go to law school, and then work as a prosecutor in a DA’s office. I would love at some point to be a DA somewhere. But if not that then some kind of law practice that would keep me in the courtroom as much as possible. But who knows—I haven’t gone to law school. I have no idea what it’s going to be like. Maybe I’ll get really excited about patent law while I’m there.
How would you say being in the Honors College has changed or benefited your experience at LSU?
The classes that are offered, and the infrastructure of Honors, make the college experience more unique. I’ve really enjoyed the HNRS classes I’ve taken. The professors who teach these courses are some of the best professors I’ve had at LSU. And the connections that come out of these classes—it’s easier to get to know your professors, because the HNRS classes are so much smaller. An example: I took HNRS 3025—American Constitutionalism—with Dr. Devlin from the LSU Law Center—so it’s great to know that I can turn to him for advice as I move through the next two years.
The people you get to meet through the Honors College—both in terms of professors, and students—are really driven in their specific fields. It’s always so great to meet students who have big goals and professors who have accomplished such big things. It’s really encouraging. Pushes you to aspire to achievement.
Final question: what advice would you give to a student who is considering LSU Honors?
One, ask yourself, do you really want to get the most academically out of your four years at LSU? If that’s what you want to do then the Honors College is the place for you. You’re just going to have more opportunities inside the Honors College. Two, find out what interests you. You get four years in college to really make deep friendships and develop yourself on a personal level. It’s important to find out what drives you. This is the set-up for the rest of your life.
Story by Liz Billet, LSU Honors College, firstname.lastname@example.org, 225-578-0083