Keynote Speaker Wes Moore Urges UMB Graduates to ''Make a Difference''
An Army officer, Rhodes Scholar, White House fellow, New York Times best-selling author,
and entrepreneur, Wes Moore,
MLitt, had much to tell the graduates of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)
as the keynote speaker at commencement May 16.
In the process, he added another avocation: car salesman.
Likening a graduate degree to a shiny, expensive new car that goes 200
mph, Moore urged the graduates to take their degrees out for a spin,
drive them "until the wheels come off" and "make a difference in the
It was among many messages from Moore, introduced by UMB President Jay A.
Perman, MD, as "an American success story."
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 book The Other Wes Moore.
The book details how two kids with the same name grew up in similar
neighborhoods but met different fates -- one as a White House fellow;
the other in prison for murder.
Moore's mother, wife, two sisters, brother-in-law, and 2-year-old
daughter were in the audience at Baltimore Arena as Moore saluted the
graduates. "Today's not about the graduation speaker," said Moore, 35,
also a PBS documentarian who spoke at the 2008 Democratic National
"There's no one in that audience that came to see me or the people on
the stage. They are here to see you! Today is all about you. But the
bigger question is what will tomorrow bring?"
Moore became Johns Hopkins' first African-American Rhodes Scholar,
served as a paratrooper and captain in the U.S. Army during a tour in
Afghanistan, and then served as a White House fellow to then-Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice before becoming an entrepreneur and youth
advocate. He said the question the graduates must face now is, "Who did you
choose to fight for? Who do you stand up for?"
Moore told the graduates several inspirational stories. Of Cara Aley, who
established American MoJo, which only hires single mothers living in
poverty, to pay tribute to her mother for persevering under similar
circumstances. He spoke of two vets, one a paraplegic, who formed
Purple Heart Homes to build homes for other paraplegic vets. A big
supporter of education, Moore spoke of a middle school principal who
arrives at school at 6:30 a.m. each day to greet his students with "a
hug and I love you."
He urged the graduates to see how many people they can impact, to make
the world a different place than it would be without them.
"With the degrees you've attained and the institution you've graduated
from, people are going to take everything you say seriously simply
because you said it. So do something with your degree," he urged.
"We're here to celebrate you today because we're going to honor what
you're going to do tomorrow. Thank you for your example, but frankly
thank you for your future."
|Posting Date: 05/16/2014
|Contact Name: Jill Yesko
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