Author's Encore Visit Inspires USC Aiken Students

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AIKEN, SC (02/28/2018) The University of South Carolina Aiken's annual Signature Speakers Series featured Wes Moore, who first spoke to the campus community August 2014.

He is a best-selling author, decorated Army combat veteran, youth advocate and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, considered by some to be one of the nation's largest foundations with a sole focus on alleviating poverty.

Moore is also founder of BridgeEDU, an organization that provides support to students as they to navigate to higher education. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Other Wes Moore and The Work.

"The Signature Speakers Series, offered through the chancellor's office, showcases some of the most prolific leaders to our campus and community," said Jacob Yarbrough, president of the USC Aiken Student Government Association.

"This series gives us an opportunity to experience and learn from individuals who are making a significant impact in our region, nation and world.

"By engaging innovative and enlightening speakers, we are inspired, entertained and informed"

This particular speaker was a hit with USC Aiken students. Many of those who attended his presentation had read The Other Wes Moore as part of a required critical inquiry course all incoming freshmen must take.

The Class of 2018 read his book the summer before their first semester at USC Aiken. Just days before school started for them that year, Moore came to campus to address the students during their Freshman Convocation.

The Other Wes Moore tells the story of how educational opportunities, community support and other factors helped Moore transcend the fate of a man with the same name who lived just blocks away and took a tragically different path to prison. The book is currently being made into a major motion picture from Executive Producer Oprah Winfrey.

Some students claim The Other Wes Moore is an empowering book - one that challenged them to really understand the world around them.

"After reading and studying this book for an entire semester, I feel as though one of the biggest missions of this book is to have everyone see every opportunity as a way to further increase their success," said Lauren Carver, a communication major who graduates in May.

"It reminds us not to take anything for granted."

The Rock Hill, S.C. native says that after reading the book, she asked herself a series of questions she really hadn't thought about before: Who are you? What shapes you? What is really within your control? What brought you here? What will change you? Are you the same person all the time?

"Figuring out the answers to these questions were important in determining who I was and where I wanted to be," Carver said.

"These big questions really made me take a step back and reevaluate what I thought I knew."

Moore is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Valley Forge Military Academy and The Johns Hopkins University. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a MLitt in International Relations and Affairs at Oxford University.

A combat-decorated Army captain, Moore served in the military for 10 years. During this time, he deployed to Afghanistan as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.

He served as a White House Fellow and special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and worked with CitiGroup as an investment specialist.

Moore is also a television producer and host who champions the challenges faced by veterans and underserved youth. His projects include PBS's Coming Back with Wes Moore about returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and All the Difference, chronicling two African-American teens from Chicago's South Side pursuing their dream of graduating from college. He also hosted Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network and American Graduate Day on PBS.

In addition to The Other Wes Moore, he has authored three other books and has contributed to a variety of media, including The Huffington Post and NBC News.

"Having Wes Moore return to USC Aiken was an honor and a privilege," Carver said.