UM Student Veteran Shows Opportunity Abounds After Military Service

UM student Jacqueline Moore served for 19 years in U.S. Air Force before going on to earn an integrative physiology degree with a concentration in exercise science, making the Dean’s List on more than one occasion. Note: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense uniform or information does not imply or constitute DOD endorsement.

MISSOULA – The road to graduation for University of Montana student Jacqueline Moore was a winding one, to say the least.

For over 19 years the native Californian served in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at bases as far afield as Charleston, South Carolina and Guam. Along the way she got married and had three children before her final duty station at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.

Of all the family moves, Moore said, the move to the Treasure State was the biggest shock to their systems.

“We were stationed in all warm bases, so we weren’t super thrilled to move to Montana,” she said, “but now we love it here.”

That affection for their adopted state played a role in her decision to enroll in UM’s College of Health. She would go on to earn a degree in Integrative Physiology with a concentration in Exercise Science, making the Dean’s List on more than one occasion.

Moore said her interest in exercise science and physical therapy stemmed from personal experience in the Air Force, when she suffered injuries needing surgery and physical therapy.

“I started thinking, what do I want to do when I leave the military? And integrative physiology and physical therapy are fascinating,” she said. “Your creating customized exercise programs for people who are recovering from injury and illness.”

In addition to providing students with job-ready skills, UM’s undergraduate program in integrative physiology also prepares them for advanced professional studies. Moore will start this fall in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at UM.

Her daughter, Cadence Moore, will also be joining her as a Griz when she enrolls in Integrative Physiology Pre-Athletic Training program.

“I’ll try not to embarrass her, when we see each other on campus,” Moore joked.

Luke Alford, Moore’s adviser in the School of Integrative Physiology and Athletic Training, said her acceptance into the highly competitive graduate program is a testament to her scholastic fortitude. Her journey to get here – serving in the military, raising a family – is, likewise, an inspiration.

This persistence was recognized when Moore won the Thomas Whiddon Award, given by the school’s faculty and chair to students who have demonstrated persistence in overcoming obstacles to their education. Whiddon was a Professor Emeritus of Health and Human Performance at UM.

“It’s always impressive when a student achieves at Jacqueline’s level, but what makes her extraordinary is how she’s found success in the face of countervailing forces,” Alford said. “Perhaps the best part, though, is that anyone who knows Jacqueline knows she’s got a standout personality too. She’s quick with a smile and a big, loud laugh!

“Having her positivity and personality around has been amazing” he added. “Getting to know and work with students like Jacqueline is the best part of the job.”

Professor John Quindry, the school’s chair, says of Moore:

“Jacqueline is a prime example of plucky, the Griz spirit, and a student that has overcome the innumerable challenges presented in the COVID-19 era.”

In additions to her studies, Moore works in UM’s Military and Veteran Services Office providing her insights and assistance to veteran students on campus. Some 1,000 military-affiliated students attend UM, which has garnered national recognition for the programming and support provided to veterans and their families.

Patrick Beckwith, director of UM’s Military and Veteran Services, said Moore’s commitment to learning new skills and pursuing a different occupation has been a role model for veterans enrolling at UM.

“Jacqueline's commitment to rebranding herself after military service and discovering a new passion is an inspiration to her peers,” Beckwith said. “She overcame the difficulties of a non-traditional student balancing part-time jobs, internships and commitment to raising her children while maintaining a full academic schedule.

Moore admitted switching from military to civilian life can be daunting.

“But I would tell veterans this is totally worth it,” she said. “It’s like getting a second life.”


Contact: Dave Kuntz, UM director of strategic communications, 406-243-5659,

Note: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense uniform or information does not imply or constitute DOD endorsement.