Author Wes Moore Speaks to Freshman Class

News Story: September 1, 2012
Student Paul Eisele talks with Wes Moore following the lecture.

Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore—which was the summer reading assignment for Sacred Heart University’s incoming freshman class, was on campus September 5 to speak to the class of 2016, faculty, staff and visitors from the community. Moore’s talk was part of SHU’s award-winning Student Affairs Lecture Series.

“College isn’t just about what you learn; it’s also about what you give. Higher education is about setting up a foundation, setting up a platform for your life’s successes,” Moore told a packed house at the University’s Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts. In all, he spoke to more than 1,300 in two separate presentations.

Moore’s book tells the story of two young men with the same name who grew up in similar circumstances, but took very different paths. The author, whose mother sent him to military school at the age of 13, went on to become a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow and business leader, while the other Wes Moore is serving a life sentence in prison for felony murder of a police officer.

“The book had me thinking that life is too short and to make this best of it. I can understand why Sacred Heart told us to read this book,” said business major Jordan Dudley. “The characters were unique and added value to the story, and I loved how the book had an arc that showed both men’s lows and both men’s highs.”

He said he has now known the other Wes for more than 10 years and has found him to be articulate, smart and funny. He still visits Wes in prison and also sees his children and other members of his family.Moore pointed out to the students that both his story (the kid that got a hand up) and the other Wes’ story (the true crime story of the kid that went astray) have been told before, but that “both stories are needed to see how thin the line is between my life and someone else’s – someone who society would suggest I have no reason to interact with, until I did.”

He encouraged the students to make the most of their opportunity to get an education. “Potential is universal in this country; opportunity is not. Education matters. As you move up in higher education, your networks change; your connections change. Seventy percent of jobs happen because of who is in your network,” he said. “It’s not about what you’re learning. It’s about who you’re learning it from and who you’re learning it with.”

He also suggested that the students make a mark while at Sacred Heart. “When it’s time for you to leave here, make sure it mattered that you were here. That’s your call to action. Make this experience mean something.” He even took it a step further, noting that as a class they have the power to make a tremendous difference in the world by working together on a life-altering project. “But who will step up to lead? And who will step up to follow?” he asked.

During the question-and-answer session, Moore talked about the need to do a better job of rehabilitating the family unit for those coming out of prison. “The recidivism rate for people leaving prison is 70 percent. That’s because there is so little opportunity for them, and they need to provide for their families. We need to do better by them,” he said.

“Listening to Wes Moore brought me to the conclusion that the path we take now can define us in the future,” added Dudley who hails from Stratford.

Following both talks, Moore spent time signing books and talking with the students.