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Rising to the challenge: MSA grad gives back to her alma mater

When Brianna Moore-Christa said goodbye to Mississippi School of the Arts during her 2005 graduation ceremony, she clung to the memories she’d made and the lessons she’d learned. For the next 10 years, she dreamed, hoped and prayed that she’d be able to return to the place that helped make her who she was.

In September, Moore-Christa was able to accomplish just that as she joined MSA’s staff as its new recruiter.

Brianna Moore

Brianna Moore

“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s a dream come true for me,” she said.

Moore-Christa said she was sitting in a line to pick-up her son from school when she received the call from Jennifer Jackson, MSA’s coordinator of school advancement, for a second interview. Moore-Christa knew in her gut she would get the job, but she went to the Milton Whitworth Chapel and prayed to God. Soon, she’d see that prayer answered.

Moore-Christa, who was part of the inaugural class at MSA, is also the first alum to return as an employee. So far, it has driven her to hit the ground running to share the gift of MSA with students across the state. So far she has visited 55 schools.

“It’s been busy but really fun,” she said. “When they come into the presentation they have a blank face — they just want to get out of class — but at the end they’re thinking wow this really does sound like a great opportunity for me.”

Moore-Christa said they’re branching out to recruit from places that they’ve never recruited from before. She is continually surprised by how many people have never heard of the art school before. Being a former student, Moore-Christa is able to speak to these students based on her own experiences.

“You can tell them, ‘You can ask me anything. I’ve been there where you’re sitting,’” she said.

She said the school creates great opportunities both in academics and through scholarship. Both of which she was able to benefit from.

“It really changed my life. It reformed me as a student and as a person,” she said. “It helped me become a better citizen.”

She said it’s interesting to see how quickly the changes can happen. Already juniors, who have only been on campus nine or 10 weeks, have grown and have been impacted by the school.

Moore-Christa said students are always surprised that there is an opportunity like this in Mississippi. She said they’re also surprised when they find out it’s publicly funded by the state.

Moore-Christa’s bond with the school is closely linked with Brookhaven.

“Honestly before I came here, I’d never heard of Brookhaven,” she said. “Now I’ve lived here since 2003.”

She said it’s been great to see the progress the community has made over the past 12 years.

“Our community is really growing, and I like to think that’s in part due to the school,” she said.

She said she isn’t the only alum to have this connection to Brookhaven. She said there’s a group of alumni who use their vacation to come visit Brookhaven each year.

As vice-president of the MSA Alumni Association, Moore-Christa works hard to make sure all alums are able to stay connected to the school.

As for her own art, Moore-Christa said a lot of it these is with the cub scouts, but she also has a web comic and travels to different festivals to do portraits.

Moore-Christa is married to Matthew Christa, and they have a 6-year-old son named Marley.