Author challenges first-year students to improve world

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Wes Moore, author of the first-year common reading book, 'The Other Wes Moore,' spoke at SMU. (Ben Ohene/The Daily Campus)


Excited first-years packed the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom wall-to-wall to hear celebrated author Wes Moore speak last night.

Dressed casually in a purple button-up and blue jeans, Moore gave off a calm confidence that drew people into his message.

The celebrated author of “The Other Wes Moore” stressed the importance of creating opportunities for young people to succeed in life.

For Moore, it’s up to this generation to open doors to achieve for the younger generation.

“We are products of our expectations,” Moore said.

Here, the author speaks from experience.

Readers are familiar with Moore’s story – a rough childhood in Baltimore that almost doomed him had it not been for military school.

Moore’s life excelled from here.

Leaving military school as class president, the promising student graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy and College and Johns Hopkins University in 1998 and 2001 with honors, respectively.

While preparing to attend Oxford University for his Rhodes studies, Moore received the shock of his life.

The Baltimore Sun ran an article congratulating the soon-to-be scholar for his achievement in 2000.

The same publication also featured a story on a robber charged with murder.

This man, also named Wes Moore, happened to grow up in the same neighborhood as his accomplished counterpart.

Fascinated, Moore exchanged letters with the man.

These exchanges evolved into visits, eventually leading to the book “The Other Wes Moore” released in 2010.

Moore was clear that his “other’s” actions were reprehensible, and did not know what to make of him initially.

What is this?

Speaking in front of a captivated audience, Moore painted his other as a gifted, funny individual denied a better life by negative influences.

There are young people similar to the convict Moore – bright, curious people who don’t have the opportunities others have.

“Potential is universal, opportunity is not,” Moore said.

SMU first-year Virgil Hawkins agreed that opportunity is not always readily available.

“But that doesn’t excuse Moore’s actions,” Hawkins, a mechanical engineering major, added.

Still, opportunities are not enough. Vision must couple with a strong work ethic to succeed.

SMU Assistant Provost Anthony Tillman agreed – youth need both vision and ethics to “overcome other people’s expectations.”

Moore, who created STAND! to influence inner-city youth in Baltimore – challenged the audience to do more.

The author insisted that 10 years from now, alumni will not worry about their grades.

Instead, they’ll the face the question: “What did you do to make the world better?”

Moore ended his speech with the notion that SMU is bigger than a diploma, that status does not excuse someone from trying to make a difference.

“We as a society need to do a better job of showing we care,” Moore said.

“The Other Wes Moore” is scheduled to hit the silver screen in 2013.

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