By Aaliyah W. Wilkerson
On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Florida A&M University (FAMU) welcomed special guest New York Times best-selling author Wes Moore for an exclusive lecture. His lecture was an interactive part of FAMU’s First-Year Experience Program and a component of the Freshman Common Book Reading Club. Th lecture was based on the successful book “The Other Wes Moore.”
“The world needs you… it needs you to live an interesting life,” explained Moore to a room full of intrigued Rattlers, including freshmen students who listened attentively.
Moore is not only a best-selling author, but he is also a decorated Army combat veteran, youth advocate and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, one of the nation’s largest foundations with a sole focus on alleviating poverty. He is also the founder of BridgeEDU, an organization that provides support to students as they to navigate to higher education. His words to the standing-room-only crowd served as a testimony of the obstacles that he and his main book character, also named Wes Moore, had to overcome.
During the event Moore announced that “The Other Wes Moore” is currently being produced to become a major motion picture by executive producer and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
The story highlights the educational opportunities, community support and other factors that helped Wes transcend the fate of a man with the same name who lived just blocks away and took a tragically different path to prison.
During the lecture, Moore wanted students to understand that circumstances do not define who they become.
“We are not a product of our environment… we are a product of our expectations,” he said.
Leading by example, Wes was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Valley Forge Military Academy and The Johns Hopkins University. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a MLitt in International Relations and Affairs at Oxford University. A decorated Army Captain, Wes Moore served for ten years, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan as a paratrooper in the elite 82nd Airborne Division. He later served as a White House Fellow and special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and worked with CitiGroup as an investment specialist.
Wes made his mark as a television producer and host, championing the challenges faced by veterans and underserved youth in critically-acclaimed programs and miniseries. These include PBS’s “Coming Back with Wes Moore,” about returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and “All the Difference,” chronicling two African-American teens from Chicago’s Southside pursuing their dream of graduating from college.
He also hosted “Beyond Belief” on the Oprah Winfrey Network and “American Graduate Day” on PBS. Wes is the author of four books and a contributor to media ranging from The Huffington Post to NBC News.
“I learned not to be ashamed,” said more about some of his failures and adversities. “All the things I thought were my greatest deficiencies were actually my greatest assets”.