Seeing is believing: a phrase exemplifying Brant Moore’s 2014 experience at the University of Minnesota Crookston. After Moore’s father sent in his football highlight reel and caught the attention of the Golden Eagle football coach, Moore took a trip from his home in Saint Paul, Minn., to Crookston to narrow down his potential college options. He met with his admissions counselor, Paige Eskelson 2008, a staff member who would become an instrumental member of his college career. His grade point average was nothing to brag about, but he knew college was the next step. With his collection of excellent recommendation letters and his desire to attend college close to home, Moore applied and was accepted to the University. At the time, he believed his references opened the door for him, but it was not until later he found out there was someone rooting for him from the very beginning.
With the large influx of students attending UMN Crookston in 2010, Moore’s freshman year, the dorm room availability was scarce. According to Moore, the overflow of students would stay at the Crookston Inn and commute a small distance to campus for class and other activities. Living off campus may sound like a fun adventure for some, but Moore was not thrilled to hear he was almost considered to live there. Without a vehicle, the sub-zero walk to campus in the winter was not something to look forward to. When a room for him opened in Skyberg, he happily moved in. Little did he know this room placement in Skyberg would be the meeting place that shaped his future. This same year in the dorms, Moore met his wife, Toynell Delaney 2014. They dated through their four years of college and were married their senior year. In addition to his wife, he also met his friend and 2014 Crookston Student Association President Alexmai Addo 2014 in the dorms, who stayed close to him ever since.
There was another side of dorm life Moore was able to experience as he worked as a Community Advisor (CA) for Skyberg Hall after his freshman year. This role allowed him to lead the campus community and prepare enjoyable activities for the residents to attend, including movie nights and meals catered from Hong’s Chinese Restaurant. The CA’s were also expected to change the bulletin boards on a monthly basis and develop creative themes to go along with them. Although Moore does not remember every design he created, there was one he continues to be proud of to this day. One month, he created a board with the message, “there is beauty in everyone.” He collected photos and the height, weight, and ages of celebrities and wrote “beauty: 100%” next to them. Moore’s goal was to show students that differences are what make each other beautiful. Memories like these made the job rewarding. “I wouldn’t give it back for anything,” he expressed.
While working as a CA as well as a security officer one summer, Moore became close with Gary Willhite, director of residential life and security. Willhite worked as Moore’s boss and they often worked on projects with one another. Around the end of Moore's sophomore year, the talk of the campus was the newly-constructed Heritage Hall. Once the building was standing and in need of decor, Willhite enlisted his help in choosing wall decorations for the lobby. The large buffalo head greeting everyone who enters the building was a decision Moore was a part of. He recalled Wilhite being thoroughly excited about adding this to the wall, and it continues to be a conversation piece for residents and guests to this day.
Rachel Lundbohm, associate professor in the business department, was another individual who played an important role in Moore’s Crookston journey. He was an intern for Lundbohm in the Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies (CRES) where he worked on various business-related projects. Moore explained the responsibility he was granted gave him a glimpse into a professional career. Lundbohm focused on teaching and held him accountable for his work, which pushed him to strive for success with the work he was given. She was always there for him and a great mentor as well. It was impactful for Moore “to have people who actually care about the outcome you have when you graduate.”
Moore maximized his four years at UMN Crookston by involving himself and being the starting force of many clubs and activities. Outside of his membership in Enactus and the National Society of Leadership and Success, Moore and his friends recognized there was an opportunity to create a club for black students on campus. With this in mind, they developed the Black Student Association at the University that is still in session today. His role within the organization was chair of events, a position allowing him to plan and host events on campus. He fondly remembers a February event where performers and poets would visit the school and show off their talents to students. Adding on to his list of founding activities, Moore and his friends were also the first group to start the powderpuff football game during Homecoming. These games were often intense as the players put their all into this activity. It was a great way for the students to get together, dress up with face paint, and cheer on their friends. Moore feels grateful some of the efforts he created a decade ago continue to impact the lives of today’s students.
On the day of his graduation, Moore was handed a letter from Eskelson, his guiding resource from his first visit to Crookston. After the ceremony and celebrations concluded, he opened the envelope to find a note with a powerful sentiment inside. Eskelson explained she saw something in Moore and knew he was going to go far with his Crookston education. She continued by stating because of his grades, he was not going to be considered in the admissions process. That did not stop Eskelson from advocating for him and acting upon her instinct that he was going to achieve greatness. “I got into college because someone believed in me,” Moore proudly shared. During the four years of his time at UMN Crookston, the campus community became closer with his work in founding various on campus programs, he received his degree in business management, and was accepted into grad school at DePaul University. All of these successes stemmed from Eskelson’s unwavering belief in Moore.
When faced with a career offer from Frito-Lay right out of college, Moore could not pass up the opportunity to begin his professional life. He deferred from DePaul University for the time being as he worked in a sales leadership role in Fargo, N.D., for the following two years. Going from one large company to another, Moore made his way over to Microsoft and joined the cloud Azure team. It was then he realized how much he enjoyed the technology industry and never looked back. One year later, he and his wife moved to Austin, Tex., and started a new chapter of their lives there. Throughout the first few years in Austin, Moore worked for Box as well as a start-up technology company.
Another beginning occurred around this same time: he and his wife became parents. In 2020 when his daughter was born, Moore took a step away from the technology business and became a stay-at-home dad. While he was taking in all the new memories he could with his daughter, he also began a financial coaching business, Atlas Financial Coaching LLC, giving advice to businesses in need. He mentioned an entrepreneur class he previously enrolled in helped in beginning this new venture. Even though it was a lot of hard work, it was rewarding to see how far the business has come and the impact he continues to make in others’ lives. After two years, Moore began applying to new technology businesses and was granted a position at Google, an accomplishment Moore is both proud of and attributes to his education from UMN Crookston. Learning how to problem solve through his internship experiences and be a leader as a CA were all skills he takes with him in the working world. He also uses the unconventional lessons he learned from his business courses, such as “thrive with ambiguity” and the importance of empathy throughout everyday life in his profession.
As a father of two, one daughter and another baby on the way in October, Moore cherishes the time he spends with his family. Together, they enjoy visiting parks and eating out at restaurants in Austin and the surrounding area. With big dreams in mind, Moore wishes to attend graduate school in the near future as well. No school is off limits as he is planning to apply to various Ivy League universities. He stated, “Maybe I won’t get into those schools, but now I have the confidence to know that I’m smart, and to know that I can do something, and know that I am worth something because someone fought for me, and that’s what Crookston does.”
Written for the Fall 2022 Torchlight e-Newsletter.