UVU Commencement To Feature Author Wes Moore, Award Honorary Degrees
March 31, 2014
For Immediate Release
University Marketing & Communications: Melinda Colton
The Utah Valley University Board of Trustees has selected best-selling author, youth advocate and Army combat veteran Wes Moore as UVU’s 2014 Commencement speaker May 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the UCCU Center. Moore, author of “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates,” is also executive producer and host of the PBS series, “Coming Back with Wes Moore,” which follows returning veterans’ attempts to reintegrate back into society. His commencement remarks at UVU will address “The Value of Your Education.”
“We are honored that Wes Moore will be sharing his passion about education with our graduates,” said UVU President Matthew S. Holland. “As a scholar, military and business leader, and now, national youth advocate, Wes brings valuable insights about the importance of mentors’ vital roles in our communities. Our students will be fortunate to hear his inspiring words.”
Moore overcame numerous family and community challenges to emerge as one of the nation’s bright stars. Raised by a widowed mother in Baltimore, Md., Moore struggled academically and behaviorally. His mother made the choice to enroll him in a military school. That decision changed the course of his life. Moore graduated Phi Theta Kappa as a commissioned officer from Valley Forge Military College, and he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001, where he also played football and earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations. He was also a Rhodes Scholar, studying international relations at Oxford University.
Moore’s New York Times bestseller, “The Other Wes Moore,” relates the story of another man by the same name whose early life paralleled Moore’s. Both boys were raised by single mothers in the same neighborhood. The “other Wes Moore,” however, is serving a life sentence without parole on murder charges.
Moore speaks frequently around the country, discussing how small choices make big differences in life. He presents the argument that support systems comprising families, mentors, teachers, friends and colleagues have the most influence on one’s life. Moore is passionate about supporting U.S. veterans and examining the roles education, mentoring and public service play in the lives of American youth.
As a paratrooper and captain in the United States Army, Moore served a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan and then served as a White House fellow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Following his time at the White House, he became an investment professional in New York at Citigroup.
A portion of all book proceeds for “The Other Wes Moore” are being donated to City Year, the U.S. Dream Academy, Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, which administers one of two federal school systems. Oprah Winfrey and HBO Films have optioned the movie rights to “The Other Wes Moore.”
Moore will be awarded an honorary doctoral degree of public service from UVU during its Commencement proceedings.
UVU will also award three additional honorary degrees to outstanding individuals at its 2014 Commencement ceremony: Barbara Barrington Jones, author, motivational speaker and philanthropist; and UVU alumni and 2014 Winter Olympic medalists Noelle Pikus-Pace and Chris Fogt.
Barbara Barrington Jones
Barrington Jones is a world-renowned author, motivational speaker and image consultant, who aims to make a difference in the lives of women. She is CEO and founder of the Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation, which is dedicated to helping women of all ages throughout the world to realize their full potential and to lead more fulfilling and productive lives. She is the major stockholder and executive board member of O.C. Jones Construction Company. She has written six books, sponsors seminars in South America on La Verdera Belleza (The True Beauty), supports four preschools in Africa and provides assistance for Chinese and Cambodian orphanages. She is also a major contributor to Utah’s Ballet West, UVU’s Wee Care Center, the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point and WELL Africa, which is currently building a school in a village in the Ivory Coast. She also provides two programs — “A New You Retreat” for women and the “Be the Best You” for young women.
At the height of her skeleton career, Pikus-Pace graduated from UVU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in community health and physical education. In 2007, she earned an MBA from Colorado Technical University. After taking a break to have her first child, she returned to training and qualified for the 2010 Winter Olympics. She missed earning a medal by one-tenth of a second, finishing fourth, and announced her retirement from the sport. In 2012, she suffered a miscarriage of their third child. As a way to heal from her personal tragedy, her husband suggested she take one more shot at Olympic history. She put an exclamation point on her 12-year journey in February as she earned a silver medal in the skeleton.
Fogt earned a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2008 from UVU, where he ran track, acting as team captain for two years and setting six school records. He completed ROTC training at the University and was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in the Military Intelligence Branch. He was accepted into the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. He participated in the 2010 Winter Olympics in the two-man bobsled but did not medal. Fogt was deployed to Iraq for a year and returned home, immediately returning to bobsledding. In February, he earned a bronze medal as a member of the 2014 Winter Olympic four-man bobsled team, called the “Night Train.” He returns to regular Army service in May.