Meet the 2017-18 NASPA Board Chair: An interview with Deb Moriarty

The following is an interview with the 2017-18 NASPA Board Chair, Dr. Deb Moriarty: 

Who is one of your heroes and why? 

At this time, I would say Hilary Clinton. Prior to her defeat, I’m not sure that she would have come to mind, but I was so moved and inspired by her concession speech and the way she carried herself in the aftermath. Not only the words of her message, but her grace and composure were truly inspiring for me.

Where is your ideal vacation spot and how would you spend your time there?  

Camping near a relatively secluded beach with the temps between 70-80. I would catch up on some of the books and magazines that have been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I would walk on the beach. I would nap. And, I would enjoy sitting by a campfire each night. In reality, my siblings and I have been doing this for years. We started around 2000 when I moved to Maryland from Michigan and we were closer to my family in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. We like to spend a week at the tip of Cape Cod is a town called Truro. To me, it’s magical, relaxing and rejuvenating, and a great way to kick off the summer! 

What is your proudest accomplishment to date?  

I have had a great, blessed, privileged life. Having my daughter in my late 30’s, raising her and seeing the strong, confident, thoughtful young woman she is today is my greatest joy. To me, that’s not an accomplishment; having a child and raising her has been a gift. The one accomplishment that I am most proud of is earning my Ph.D. It was incredibly challenging process in part because my life continued to evolve while I was working on it (you know, met my soul mate, had a baby, moved twice!). But really the hardest part was the writing process. I have always thrived working in collaboration with others and I found this process to be very lonely. While I’m content with the final product, I think it could have been so much more had I been analyzing the data, sharing thoughts and writing with others.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That is a really difficult question, as I love so many foods. A great Maine lobster and clams would be right up there but I’m not sure if I could eat it for the rest of my life. I love sushi and could eat that 4 nights a week, but am still not sure that it would be a “rest of my life” meal. So, I’m going to have to say a great plate of pasta with a very light sauce, perhaps with either broccoli or baby Brussels sprouts, a piece of garlic bread, paired with a glass of Pinot Grigio and sparking water! 

If you could go back in time, to when would you travel? With what aim?  

I’m much more interested in going back to a time in my life rather than another era. My 40’s were a great and challenging decade for me. I was learning how to balance a dual career marriage with becoming a mom. While challenging, it was a really fun and rewarding time of my life. We were living in the great city of Ann Arbor, MI and working at the University of Michigan. Life’s possibilities seemed limitless.

What are some of your pet peeves? 

Let’s see….People not being honest (it’s such a break of trust). Sneezing without covering one’s mouth. I’m sure I have many more, but either I can’t think of them or they’re not for publication!

What was the last time you were truly surprised? 

My daughter is always full of surprises! Actually, I love it because she’s exploring life before she heads off to graduate school. I laugh when she tells me she’s worried about telling me something—there’s been a few surprises in those conversations. She’s getting better at understanding that I will always support her, even when she’s surprising me with her next step! 

What is your favorite animal and why?  

My favorite animal is my 11-year-old Golden Retriever Sammy. He has been such an important part of our family and has been part of all of our life experiences over those years. His one constant throughout his life has been me and we are very attached to each other. We do not have a pet policy at work, but I would give anything to have him with me during the day so that we could comfort each other. His health is declining and I’m enjoying every minute I have with him!

What is the most daring thing you have ever done and would you ever do it again?  

Hmmm, I see myself as someone who isn’t afraid to take risks (moving across county at 23 with only a friend and no job) but I never really thought of that as daring. Daring… Does adding purple to my hair last year count? Skiing on the black diamond slopes way back when? Those two represent me pushing the envelope! 

If you were home for a sick day, what would you binge watch? 

Tough question! I just finished West Wing, enjoyed every minute of it, and was sad when it ended. I loved getting a glimpse inside the White House, especially in light of the current political climate. The next two shows on top of my list are VEEP and Downtown Abbey. Not sure which one I would pick first. 

What items would go into your survival bag for a deserted island?  

Books including great novels, puzzle books (crosswords, Sudoku), adult coloring books, lots of pens, pencils and markers, bug spray (lots of it) and sunscreen. I’d love to have music…maybe a solar satellite radio!

What’s one thing you miss from your childhood? 

Being around relatives. We had a very big family network in the town I grew up in, Holyoke, Mass. We would see my grandparents regularly. I had 23 cousins on my mom’s side and it was lots of fun having big family gatherings a couple of times a year.  

What is your favorite book or movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much? 

The book that has stuck with me more than any other is Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. At that time in my life, I loved reading those long, epic novels. With this one, I loved the format – each chapter was in the voice of a different character and the story was captivating, if sometimes difficult to follow.

What advice would you give to your eighteen-year-old self? 

Calm down! Learn how to manage your anxiety and need to be perfect. Learn how to meditate. Start a journal to chronicle the stories of my professional adventure. I think it would make an interesting book, had I done that.

What are some items from your bucket list?   

Visiting Nova Scotia and Vancouver. A long trip to Ireland. A solo trip across the county, camping at all of our great state and national parks and visiting friends (and my NASPA family) along the way.