Giving Back in Guatemala

CECH student eager to extend her commitment to volunteering into a career in public service

Embarking on an unfamiliar, challenging environment may rattle most people, but this is where Kristin Moore, CECH ’14, thrives. Within the layers of ambiguity and complexity is where she strengthens and fulfills her passion to help others. It is this passion that will shape the work she plans to tackle in the criminal justice field as a crime prevention analyst upon graduation.

“I’ve always been active in doing service-oriented things,” Moore said, which helped shape her decision to focus her studies on criminal justice and public service.

Her recent trip to Guatemala – offered through a Service Learning Project with The Lindner College of Business and the Department of Romance Languages – is one way that she and her fellow trip participants have been able to give back while also gaining exposure to solve real challenges outside the classroom. A collaborative effort across the university, both non-Spanish speaking students and Spanish speakers from the Romance Languages and Literatures Department could apply and be selected to go on the trip.

“We built houses, through Habitat for Humanity, for families who really need them,” Moore said. “But we also learned a lot by experiencing their culture and lifestyle.”

Moore, who is minoring in Spanish, knew she wanted to capitalize on unique learning opportunities at CECH and UC and that these experiences will help her realize her goal to aid others, the cornerstone of public service.

Trip participants, which included students from across the university and UC faculty and staff members, flew into Guatemala City, then took a bus to Antigua to start their trip. From Antigua, they went on to San Marcos, where they helped build three houses for different families during their week-long trip. Through their home building projects and exploration of local villages and cities, students developed increased awareness and appreciation for the need for decent, affordable shelter. According to Habitat for Humanity, about eight million people lack adequate shelter in Guatemala.

“Kristin was one of the students who really made a connection to the people in Guatemala, which is one of the most important parts of the trip,” said Alejo Delgado, a CECH academic advisor who went on the trip. “I think the students and the families have a more enriching experience by forming relationships during the week. Whether it was the families, the masons or the young children running around the build sites, Kristin was interacting with them and forming those bonds that make the experience special.”

Reflecting on the relationships that she formed with her peers and the locals with whom they worked on the construction, Moore said everything they did was received with the utmost appreciation.

“I think students should look into these types of opportunities because these are experiences that are enriching for you personally – and for the people who you are helping,” Moore said. “It’s really humbling, and you’re helping people who really need it.”

Exposure to new, unfamiliar environments will help prepare Kristin for the complex and ambiguous challenges that often define work in public service, specifically in the criminal justice field.

With her eye to the future, she has hopes to become a crime prevention analyst at either the state or federal level. Employing her passion for helping others, in this role she will analyze statistics to lower crime rates or install programs that lower crime rates. She also thinks her ability to speak Spanish will aid her in her future work.

“My professor from Criminal Justice 101, Dr. Robin Engel, spurred my interest in this field,” Moore said. “She travels all over the world installing crime reduction programs.”

As Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the University of Cincinnati Policing Institute, Engel’s research impacts many areas and aspects of the criminal justice field. Her most recent work is focused on homicide reduction in Cincinnati and other cities in the state of Ohio.

But before entering the work-force full-time after graduation, Moore hopes to return to Guatemala and continue her quest to help those in need and build more houses through Habitat for Humanity.