Maroon Edition book author to new MSU students: ‘Be a champion for others’

New York Times best-selling author Wes Moore delivers the keynote address Thursday [Aug. 17] at Mississippi State’s fourth annual Fall Convocation at Humphrey Coliseum. During his evening presentation, Moore inspired new freshmen and transfer students to make the most of their higher education by helping others. (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.— Live in contradictions. Speak up, but listen intently. Use your voice to mean something, but make sure you’re hearing others out. Understand that patience and impatience are both virtues. Get some rest, but stay fully awake. Take care of each other.

Those words of wisdom were part of an inspirational message that New York Times best-selling author Wes Moore shared Thursday [Aug. 17] when addressing an estimated 3,500 first-year freshmen and all-time record-number 2,000 transfer students gathered for MSU’s fourth Fall Convocation in Humphrey Coliseum.

Author of the university’s 2017 Maroon Edition common reading program book selection, “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates,” Moore reminded students that the journey to earning a college degree is an experience that goes far beyond the physical diploma.

Moore’s critically-acclaimed book is a compelling story of how two young men with the same name—growing up at the same time in the same neighborhood—end up in two very different places due to the life-changing decisions they make.

“Your true higher education must be your ability to use your learnings and passions to figure out ways of helping others who might not be so lucky or blessed,” said Moore, a Rhodes Scholar who rose out of a tough neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. “Who is it that you will advocate for when it isn’t easy, simple or convenient? The answer, I hope, is that you will fight for those who deserve and need a champion.”

Founder and CEO of the education technology startup BridgeEdU, Moore said he seeks to inspire younger generations to lead by example and make a difference in the lives of others.

“Our personal goals and responsibilities should be to make sure that everyone’s story is heard and everyone’s journey is understood,” said the former U.S. Army captain and paratrooper. “We have the personal responsibility—as those who have edged up through the cracks—to make sure we’re bringing others up along with us.”

Prior to Moore’s address, MSU President Mark E. Keenum, Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner, Robert Holland Faculty Senate President Brent Fountain, along with Student Association President Tyler McMurray and Vice President Layton Little, officially welcomed the university’s newest members of the Bulldog family.

McMurray also led the students as they recited the University Honor Code in unison, and each student received a Fall Convocation coin to commemorate the special occasion.

Keenum, who holds three degrees from Mississippi State, encouraged his fellow Bulldog family members to make the most of their higher education experience, which, he said, “will prepare you to make a lasting impact on your own lives and those of others you encounter.”

“During your time here at Mississippi State, you are going to learn a lot of great things,” Keenum said. “You are going to be exposed to some of the most world-class, acclaimed, distinguished scholars who will be imparting knowledge on you to prepare you for your life.”

“You are blessed to be at such an outstanding research university, where you will learn about teamwork and working hard for yourself. You are part of a family; don’t ever forget that,” he emphasized.

Bonner echoed Keenum’s sentiments and told students they will have opportunities to become involved in extracurricular activities that will supplement and reinforce concepts and skills from their classes at the state’s leading university.

Study abroad, undergraduate research, service learning, student leadership, internships and co-oping are among those opportunities, Bonner said.

“Your journey to completing your college degree will include much more than just completing classes,” she said. “You will be growing intellectually and gaining life skills that will aid you in becoming a leader in your chosen profession.”

At the ceremony’s conclusion, MSU’s State Singers—directed by Associate Professor of Music and Choral Activities Director Gary Packwood—led the new students in the singing of the alma mater, “Maroon and White.” Musical accompaniment was provided by the Famous Maroon Band conducted by MSU alumna Elva Kaye Lance, now in her 15th year as director of bands.

Follow Wes Moore on Facebook and Twitter @IAmWesMoore.

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