Every seat in the University Center’s Main Lounge was full as students and faculty anxiously awaited Wes Moore, as part of the SHU Speaks series.
On Sept. 29, Moore, an author and social entrepreneur, spoke about his nonfiction book The Other Wes Moore, which was required for freshmen reading this year. During his speech, he spoke about his book, his personal experiences and the importance of higher education.
His book, which is about the thin line between people’s lives, tells the story of two young boys who share the same name and a similar history, but travel down different paths in life. While both grew up fatherless with troubled pasts, one became a Rhodes scholar and the other ended up in jail convicted of murder and is currently serving a life sentence.
In his speech, he said “We are not a product of our environment, we are a product of our expectations.”
His speech was both humorous and serious in tone, causing the audience to shift between laughter and pensiveness.
Due to the fact that Moore’s book was required reading for freshmen, the Office of Freshman Studies came up with the idea to bring Wes Moore to campus.
Shruti Sharma, sophomore and live events co-chair of the Student Activities Board (SAB), said the Office of Freshman Studies collaborated with SAB in order to coordinate a SHU Speaks event featuring Wes Moore.
Previous speakers of SHU Speaks include blogger Brandon Stanton, known for “Humans of New York,” and former Olympian Shaun Johnson.
However, Sharma said, Moore differed from previous speakers because of his relatability.
Sharma said Moore was ultimately chosen as the speaker not only because of his background in public speaking, but also because students were already familiar with his work.
“The freshmen already knew about him from reading his book,” Sharma said. “We felt they could relate to what he talked about more after reading his book.”
Taji Steele, a freshman theatre major, attended the event and said she enjoyed how much she related to Moore on a personal level.
“It had a really strong impact on me, especially coming from my specific background,” Steele said. “I have people from several sides of my family who have undergone the same situation and it’s really terrifying to know that that’s such a real experience for so many people.”
Emily Jung, a freshman nursing major, also attended the event and said she enjoyed it more than she anticipated.
“I really liked his speech because I could really relate to it,” Jung said. “I thought he would be wanting us to buy his book and promoting his book more but he gave a really good inspirational speech.”
Sharma emphasized the importance of these kinds of events and said they give students a glimpse of reality.
“I think it’s important to have these types of events on campus because it gives students an insight into the real world, and it gives them a drive to make a change in the world,” Sharma said.
Katherine Segovia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.