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Extending the Connection

old family photograph

by Katya Hrichak ’17

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Professor of English Wendy Moffat has seen a lot of students throughout her time at Dickinson, but it’s not often that she gets to teach several students from the same family. When Emma Moore ’20 declared her English major, it wasn’t long before Moffat recognized her resemblance to a former student and began to piece together the puzzle.

Through a conversation with the archives staff that resulted in the acquisition of old family photographs, Moffat identified Emma as the daughter of one of her former advisees, Jeanne Ruane Moore ’92.

“There is a family resemblance and it was an unusual enough last name,” says Moffat. “This [family legacy] was sneaky because Emma kept that to herself for quite a while.” But after presenting Emma with the photographs, there was no denying the familial connection.

Although they are not the largest Dickinson legacy family on record, the Moore family legacy is substantial. The legacy extends in both Moore’s maternal and paternal directions, including Emma’s father, Andy Moore ’91; her mother, Jeanne Ruane Moore ’92; her mother’s sisters, Katie Ruane Riley ’97 and Colleen Ruane Sherman ’00; her aunt Katie’s husband, Benjamin Riley ’97; her mother’s cousin, Meghan Kwasniak Thomas ’99; and now Emma herself.

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Being familiar with this information made Emma’s college search process slightly different from that of typical high school seniors, but she says her parents never pushed her to choose Dickinson simply because they did. When Emma made the choice to apply, it was because Dickinson allowed her to play soccer while offering her a great academic program and the opportunity to study abroad. Carrying on the family legacy was just another perk.

“When I did my overnight visit with one of the girls on the team, I knew instantly that Dickinson was the right choice,” says Emma. “From that experience and also from hearing all the positive stories and experiences my parents had at Dickinson, I decided to apply Early Decision. Of course [they] were thrilled!”

Jeanne agrees, saying she was confident Emma was making the right choice. “My husband and I loved every minute of our time at Dickinson and we knew that Emma was beginning what we know will be some of the best years of her life,” she says. “Dickinson feels like home to us, even 25 years later, and it is comforting to think of her spending time in the same buildings, eating in the HUB and even taking classes with some professors who taught us.”

Sharing professors with her mom and dad is one of the aspects Emma enjoys most about being a legacy. “It’s extra special,” she says. “After I chose Professor Moffat as my English advisor, I learned that she was also my mom’s advisor. Now she calls me her grand-student.” 

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In addition to being a second-generation advisee, Emma has followed other patterns established by her family before her. After accepting her bid, Emma became a triple legacy at Pi Beta Phi sorority, following in her mom’s and aunt’s footsteps, as well as accepting a position as a Writing Center tutor, a position that both Jeanne and Andy held while students. “This has been particularly special,” Jeanne says.

Although the family was away at one of Emma’s soccer games this past Homecoming Weekend, several members of the family are looking forward to celebrating reunions this spring. “In June, it will be my 25th reunion and my sister Katie and her husband Ben’s 20th reunion,” says Jeanne. She and Andy, Katie and Ben will all be in attendance to celebrate the impact Dickinson has made on their family.

“We have a very close family to begin with, and all my family members have been supportive of me throughout my whole life. Now we have another thing in common,” says Emma. “Ever since I chose Dickinson, at almost every family event, there are stories told about the good ol’ days, and now I have stories to add to the conversation!”

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“… we knew that Emma was beginning what we know will be some of the best years of her life.”

Moore family tree


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Published March 28, 2017