Pandemic makes for challenging time to begin professional career

Rotary Club of Highlands Scholarship winner recounts her entry into the working world amidst COVID-19

Entry into the working world is always an adjustment, but 2016 Rotary Club of Highlands Scholarship winner Blakely Moore’s entry was delayed in unexpected and often frightening ways because of COVID-19.

The Lee University graduate majored in History and Education and was excited about being chosen to participate in the Peace Corps and expected to teach in Cambodia, beginning in July of 2020.

First, Moore planned to do her student teaching in Bolivia and embarked on her career in early March of 2020 when COVID-19 was just a blip on the radar screen in the US.

Within days of her arrival, Bolivia implemented a strict COVID-19 quarantine and she couldn’t leave her host family’s home. With the military enforcing the quarantine and all international travel blocked, weeks went by and her future was uncertain.

Finally booking a ‘repatriation flight’ home at the end of March, she celebrated her return to the United States with joy, although practically alone, in the Miami Airport.

Moore’s homecoming in Highlands was lonely as she endured another two weeks quarantining in a neighbor’s empty home.

The daughter of Kay and Jerry Moore of Highlands, Blakely soon found that her dream of working in the Peace Corps would be delayed several times; it has now been rescheduled to July 2021.

However, Cambodia’s loss has been Highlands’ gain since she secured her first teaching gig at Highlands School, where she began teaching Spanish and coaching cross country.

“I never expected to be back at my own school, working side-by-side with teachers I’d been learning from just a few years ago,” said Blakely.

Her ultimate goal? To earn a graduate degree in international development that will allow her to focus on education on a world stage.

Blakely’s desire to travel still burns brightly, but she acknowledges she’d feel much safer traveling with a group such as the Peace Corps with stable infrastructure in place.

“I realized my perspective on the world had changed,” said Blakely. “Having grown up in a small town like Highlands, where everyone was watching out for me, even my government, I realized everyone is not so lucky. We don’t all have the same safety net the world over. It was a true reality check to realize I’m not invincible, but I still want to travel and make change through education. I’d just do it differently the next time.”

Pictured at the top of the article is Blakely Moore, 2016 Rotary Club of Highlands Scholarship winner, recounted her entry into the working world, despite the pandemic, when she addressed Rotary Club Members on Dec. 8. 

In other Rotary news: Rotary Club of Highlands donates cash to teachers

Last week, The Rotary Club of Highlands gave their annual cash gifts to teachers at Highlands School, as has been done for many years running.

From left are Brian Aulisio, Highlands School Teacher; Sarah Holbrooks, Assistant Principal; Sherry Holt, Rotary Club Past President; Brian Jetter, Principal; Zach Claxton, Rotary Club President.

These cash gifts are given to teachers to help reimburse them for classroom supplies they pay for out of their own pockets throughout the school year.

This year, with COVID-19 problems and unusual needs, the cash gifts will help offset higher than normal needed classroom supplies and expenses.

Article and photos courtesy of Rotary Club of Highlands

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