The UA Forum Speaker Series welcomed Wes Moore to campus on Oct. 23. He is the author of "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates," which was selected by a faculty committee as the Common Reading book for incoming freshmen. Themes from the book are infusing general education course curricula throughout the 2012-13 academic year. New Student Orientation sponsored Moore's appearance.
"The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates," published in 2011, chronicles the lives of two young men who have the same name and live in the same city, but who follow two different directions. One grows up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow and business leader, while the other is serving a life sentence in prison for felony murder. What went wrong? How could two people seemingly with the exact same circumstances take such different paths in life?
The book details the stages of each man's life, their similar moments of decision and very different choices, and the people in their lives who led them to astonishingly different destinies. With the help of letters and prison visits with the other Wes Moore, the author shares a story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a challenging, and at times, hostile world.
Many UA students, faculty, staff and community members came to E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall to hear Moore deliver UA’s annual First Year Lecture. He began by talking about his past as a troubled youth. Moore noted that his only memory of his father was his death. He admitted that his wrong choices as a juvenile led his mother to force him to attend military school as a young teen. Moore told his audience that military school was the guiding force to a turn in his life that made him "believe and fight for something."
Moore is passionate about mentoring and providing public services to American youth. He discussed his disappointment regarding programs and services that are unavailable to young people who have had trouble with the law. As a result, Moore established STAND, an organization that works with Baltimore youth involved in the criminal justice system. To date, the organization has served more than 400 youth ranging in age from 8 to 13.
"Kids are one decision away from either greatness or making poor decisions … potential is universal, but opportunity is not," said Moore, who considers helping young people redirect their lives a part of his life's work. He is committed to being a positive influence and helping them find the support they need to survive.
"When it is time for you to leave, make sure that your time was relevant," Moore told his audience as he concluded his lecture.
Story by Lakesha Allen, University of Akron student