About our Cover Model
By Annette Pinder
Erin M. Moss is proud to have grown up on Buffalo’s east side, where she attended Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts and majored in vocal music. Selected to be a part of the most prestigious choir in high school, she enjoyed the opportunity it gave her to travel. Performing also provided her with skills she would later use in pageants, including Miss Elkdom of New York State, which she won, and Miss Elkdom of the World, in which she placed second.
In college, Erin completed Miss America preliminaries while pursuing the Miss America pageant. “Pageantry taught me interview and public speaking skills, which helped open doors to new opportunities and fellowships. I am pleased to see more diversity now in pageantry than when I began competing in 2001,” said Erin.
Erin initially pursued medicine in college and then switched to musical theatre. However, it was while participating in a C-step program designed to increase the number of minorities entering graduate school, that caused a lightbulb to go off in Erin’s head. “For the first time, I found learning fun. I realized that helping people came naturally to me. It was like breathing.” It also reminded Erin of ways her mom, a retired Buffalo Public School teacher, also helped girls and women. “My mom would make pies and have girls over that she knew needed support. We’d hang out and paint our nails together.”
After completing her first internship in school counseling, Erin knew she wanted to be a mental health therapist and changed her major. She received a BA in Social Science Interdisciplinary with a concentration in Community Mental Health, and a minor in African American studies. Advocating for Black people, equality and diversity, Erin attended graduate school at the same time she was working, receiving a master’s degree in mental health counseling. Upon completing her mental health counseling boards, she completed 3,000 post graduate clinical hours, becoming a licensed therapist. “People don’t realize that becoming a licensed therapist requires 4 undergraduate years, 3 graduate years, and 2 years of post-graduate clinical hours.”
Erin is the oldest child and the only girl in her family. One of her brothers is a Buffalo firefighter, and the other is a corrections officer, as was her dad. Her younger brother is in high school. She is not yet married, explaining that she was on the fast track since high school. She says, “A woman’s route to success is a lot different that of a man, and I’m glad I put my career first, but for the first time I feel like I have more time for a personal life. I needed to do certain things first. No one way is successful.”
Erin sees many women, children, and teens in her private practice. Many have issues with their self-worth. They remind me of my own earlier struggles. I especially want to help women who look like me. It’s like a calling. When I open the door to someone sitting across from me, I know that this is what I’m here for. It’s like a calling.”
Concerned about teens and young adults today, Erin feels that they lack direction and hears them saying they don’t want to work. “I see a lot of depression in young people and try to help them understand that filling up your schedule with things you love brings you fulfillment. “I think social media plays a role in this. Seeing what other people seem to have on social media causes young people to want a life filled with clothes, cars, and a lifestyle without any real meaning behind it. There is so much pressure on kids to keep up. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t work at places like Burger King and Denny’s years ago.”
Erin is currently Vice Chair of Mental Health Advocates of WNY, where she sits on the diversity and executive committees. “Our goal is to help bring about change, and respond to how diverse populations are impacted by mental health and stigma.”
Right now, Erin is working on creating more room for a personal life, as she enjoys traveling and cultivating relationships, things she has not had much time for in the past. “When you’re building a business, you want it to succeed, and I just hit 7 years of practicing, so I need to make some time for me.” Recently, Erin visited the Art Museum in Laguna Beach, where she was surprised to see so much Black art. It makes the world feel a bit smaller.”
Visit Erin at www.erinmoss.com. Contact her at 716-507-1124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.