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It’s Not Your GPA But Your GPS

Wes Moore grew up in a single parent home in a rough neighborhood and became a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, a White House Fellow, and one of the top business leaders in New York. The other Wes Moore grew up in a similar household in a similar neighborhood and is now serving a life sentence in prison.

The path that each of these men took to become who they are today is detailed in Moore’s book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.  “The process of writing made me feel closer to both Wes Moore’s,” says Moore. “I got a chance to know him better and also to know myself better.”

When he spoke to the students and faculty of Columbus Academy this afternoon,  Moore spent most of his presentation explaining that there was no inherent difference between himself and the Wes Moore who is now in prison, other that the expectation of what they were to become. While Moore was pressed by his family to become a force for good in the world, the other Moore was not expected to become much.

“We are not a product of our environment. We are a product of our expectation,” Moore explains, “And the sad thing is that we both lived up to our expectation.”

Moore also expounded the notion that while all people have potential, opportunity is limited and must be taken advantage of, especially when people like the students of Academy are blessed with so many opportunities. “My sister said to me one day that her version of hell would be God showing her everything she could have accomplished, had she only tried,” he recounted in a later interview. “I think we all have an opportunity to do something interesting . . . and the question becomes will we eventually see it through . . . or will we watch it fall away”

“The point of being here [at Columbus Academy],” he says, “Is so each and every person understands who you’re fighting for. Who does your education benefit other than you? That is what you need to discover.”

Moore drove this point home throughout his entire presentation, but most forcefully when he repeated the words of one of his teachers: “When it’s time for you to leave, whether it be this school or this world, make sure it mattered.”

The message that Moore left with our audience was a powerful one that should be taken to heart, and it was this: having a good education and a world of opportunity is useless unless it can be used to help others and leave a positive mark on the world. It is not about how smart we are, how charismatic we are, how wealthy we are, or how successful we are; it is about where we go with our lives.

So make it matter.

See the full interview:

Written by Sarah Fornshell’15




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