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Entrepreneur, Author Wes Moore to Speak at UMB Commencement

Youth advocate, entrepreneur, and author Wes Moore, MLitt, will touch upon a host of subjects when he presents the keynote address at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) commencement exercise on May 16 at Baltimore Arena.

Now in demand as a public speaker after appearances including the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and featured by such media outlets as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Charlie Rose, Meet the Press, The View, and on his own PBS series on returning veterans, Moore, 35, has found his leadership niche.

But for years his success was far from assured. Raised in a single-parent household in Baltimore, Moore was drawn toward trouble as a child, enough so that his mother eventually enrolled him in a Pennsylvania military school. This single, determined choice effectively changed the course of her son's life, a story Moore told in his New York Times best-seller The Other Wes Moore.

The book details how two kids with the same name grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods but met different fates -- one as a White House fellow; the other in prison for murder. As Moore says, "The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his. It's unsettling to know how little separates each of us from another life altogether."

After graduating as a commissioned officer from Valley Forge Military College in 1998, Moore completed his studies at Johns Hopkins University in 2001, and became Hopkins' first African-American Rhodes Scholar, studying international relations at Oxford University. After his studies, Moore served as a paratrooper and captain in the U.S. Army during a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan. He then served as a White House fellow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Now bringing his message to the podium, Moore presents the compelling argument that it is support systems - dedicated networks of families, mentors, teachers, friends, colleagues - that have the most profound and lasting impact on one's life.

One tenet that he has kept close to his heart consists of but six words: "Grandma said have faith not fear."

Moore is proud to speak before the graduating class at UMB for several reasons.

One, he admires Baltimore, moving back here in recent years with his wife and two young children. He is a fan of the city's well-established arts and cultural scene and its exciting technology ecosystems. "The challenges that Baltimore faces, along with many other major American cities, don't blind me to the extraordinary municipality we live in and the extraordinary Baltimoreans we are surrounded by," he told The Sun in 2012.

He also is a big supporter of education. At Hopkins, Moore founded an organization called STAND! that works with Baltimore youth involved in the criminal justice system. Now as a youth advocate, Moore is active in examining the roles education, mentoring, and public service play in the lives of young Americans.

Pointing out that a high school student drops out every nine seconds, he says that public servants - the teachers, mentors, and volunteers who work with our youth - are as imperative to our national standing and survival as are our armed forces. "Public service does not have to be an occupation," Moore says, "but it must be a way of life."

Named among the "40 Under 40 Rising Stars" by Crain's New York Business in 2009, the Veterans Leadership Award recipient of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in 2010, and part of Ebony magazine's Annual Power 100 List in 2011, Moore copes with a hectic schedule. But his mind never strays far from the principles he expressed in his book.

"Small interactions and effortless acts of kindness can mean the difference between failure and success, pain and pleasure - or becoming the people we loathe or love to become," he writes. "We are more powerful than we realize, and I urge you to internalize the meanings of this remarkable story and unleash your own power."
Posting Date: 05/12/2014
Contact Name: Chris Zang
Contact Phone: 410-706-2074
Contact Email: czang001@umaryland.edu