Louisa Moseley of Conway could not have imagined when she left a dysfunctional home at 14 and became a foster child that someday she’d be named Woman of the Year.
The Conway Business and Professional Women chapter honored Moseley in October with the award.
“It meant a lot. It was very inspiring,” she said. “I was very humbled, grateful. It’s something I never expected.”
The single mother of five found a way to succeed, and she helps students at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway as a transfer coordinator in the Academic Advising Center.
Moseley was nominated by Iesha Earnest, a graduate assistant who works with Moseley in the transfer-student division of the Academic Advising office.
Earnest said her mother is a member of BPW, so she was aware of the awards. Earnest received the Young Professional’s Award last year.
She said she has been impressed by how Moseley helps students and juggles family life.
“I thought Louisa would be a great candidate because of the aspect she brings to the community she’s in,”
Earnest said. “I think she’s very influential. She’s just basically a jack-of-all-trades. Her hand is pretty much in anything, and she’s relatable. She takes the time to make sure everyone from any background can be successful, and she truly cares.”
Earnest said Moseley goes the extra mile for students, and that’s the standard she’s set in the office.
“She’s very involved in her kids’ lives, with PTA. … There’s so much that she does — teaching courses, advising so many transfer students. She just recently got her doctorate, and that’s amazing to me, as a mother, and you’re working and to still complete that.
“She doesn’t use anything as an excuse. She gets her work done.”
Moseley impressed Conway Business and Professional Women President Shenel Sandidge, too.
“She has an awesome resume. Her stuff was off the chart,” Sandidge said. “She’s a divorced mother of five, and she worked her way through school. She’s under the radar, but she does a lot.”
People don’t know half the story.
Moseley said her mother was an alcoholic and lived with an abusive man in their home near Seattle, Washington. Moseley
moved out when she was 14 and went to live with a friend.
Moseley said she told her mother that she’d come home if her mother would give up alcohol for six months and get control of her life. She didn’t.
“Alcohol was more important to her than her child. I didn’t dwell on it at all; that was her choice,” Moseley said.
Moseley went into the foster-
care system. Her long-term foster-care family was decent, she said, but the mother was only six years older than she was, which caused conflict. Moseley said she “did her own thing” and stayed away from home as much as possible. She ended up leaving before she was 18 and staying with friends.
“I still have all my foster-care paperwork,” she said, pointing to a bookshelf in her office.
Despite her chaotic home life, Moseley said, she worked all through high school and played sports. She has good memories of staying with an aunt in Barrow, Alaska, when she was 5, and Moseley said her mother and her mother’s boyfriend took her with them the summer after her sixth-grade year, to mine gold in Alaska.
She said that with the encouragement and help of a counselor at Kennewick High School and a foster-care caseworker, she was accepted to Seattle University and received financial aid.
She was the first in her family to go to college, but she only stayed one semester.
“It was a rough semester,” Moseley said. Her car was towed the first day, and a male student started stalking her.
She transferred to a community college, where she took accounting courses.
Life got even harder, though.
In 1995, Moseley’s mother was killed by the man she was living with when Moseley was in the home. According to an article in the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Washington, the man, whom her mother had married, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter. Moseley said her stepmother also died within a year of her mother.
Moseley said she missed a lot of class during that time, and when she explained her situation, “one of my professors called me a liar,” she said.
She got married in 1996, and the couple lived in Covington, Washington. She had three children with her first husband, the oldest of whom is now a student at UCA. Moseley started back to school after the couple married, but she quit again before they divorced in 2003.
Moseley said she worked at a hotel front desk, then a store in the mall, but she was laid off. She started dating a man who was getting out of the military and had family in Arkansas.
They moved to Conway in 2004, and she started attending UCA. They were married in 2005.
“I liked [Conway]; this pace was a little slower than Washington,” she said. Moseley earned a degree in political science. “I wanted to get the fastest degree. It took me 15 years to get the bachelor’s.”
While she went to UCA, she worked as an executive team leader for Target in Little Rock.
“It really opened my eyes about how to work with people; I learned so much about people and working styles,” she said.
Moseley taught Upward Bound classes for high school students in the summer at UCA and became an adjunct teacher for UCA’s University College.
“They were academic-success courses, so I was a good fit,” she said. Moseley teaches English courses to students who needed improvement based on their ACT scores.
In 2014, she became an education counselor, where she analyzed transfer students’ credits to ensure that the students could graduate in a timely manner.
“I like helping students and working with them on an individual basis,” she said.
In July, she became a transfer coordinator.
“I focus more of my time on working with the students’ transcripts,” she said. “I spend less time advising and spend more time making sure the internal pieces are correct.”
Moseley said that when she came to UCA as a transfer student, she got “the run around” and found it difficult to get help. Because it was summertime when she started, Moseley said there was no adviser to help her.
Since August 2015, she said an adviser is available year-round in the Academic Advising Center. Students don’t have any problems or situations that surprise her, she said, and she wants to see them succeed.
Her former professor’s comment that she was lying about her situation “stuck with me,” she said.
“I make sure my students know if they have questions, they can come to me and talk to me, or I’ll help them find the resources they need,” she said.
Moseley and her husband, who have two children together, divorced this year. She has four sons, ages 20, 18, 16 and 10; and a daughter, 8. Four of the children live at home with her, but her 18-year-old graduated last week from Marine basic training in California.
Her goal in the next 10 years is to become a tenured professor, possibly in business, and she wants to use her experience to help mentor foster-care children or foster-care families.
In her application for the Woman of the Year Award, Moseley wrote that only 50 percent of foster children graduate from high school, and of those, only 10 percent go to college.
“Sadly, of the 10 percent who go to college, only 3 percent complete their undergraduate degree,” she said. “I was fortunate to overcome the odds and not only earned my graduate degree, but I also pursued and completed my doctoral degree.”
She received her diploma just days ago for her doctorate in organizational leadership.
Moseley said she has done a lot of self-reflection.
“I’ve continued to grow,” she said. “I look at everything as a learning opportunity. Everything placed in front of me is an obstacle. I will either move it or go around it; I don’t let it stop me.”
She said she wants to empower adolescent girls “who experience stereotypes and biases” to complete the education and training they need to succeed.
She has firsthand experience in that, and she wouldn’t change it.
“Everything happens for a purpose,” she said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or email@example.com.