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"You Cannot Hit a Target If You Can't See It"

By Holly Pearson
On March 12, 2013

On March 6, Indiana University Northwest and the surrounding community of Gary came together to celebrate the journey they had all taken together. Though no traveling was involved, the community and university united as one through the "One Book One Campus One Community Program" after reading the novel The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore. The program first began 9 months ago, in late spring 2012 when the Northwest Council, a group of Deans and Professors, read Wes Moore's book along with a few other pieces of literature. They had chosen Wes Moore's novel to be the introductory book for the One Book One Campus One Community Program, believing it was most fitting for a wide variety of people.

 "Learning about social justice, racial equity and diversity, the campus and community can come together through literature," explains Phyllis Barlow, Office Coordinator, Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs.

By getting the Gary community and Gary public schools involved, the program gives depth to thinking and discussing important social issues through certain texts, and by promoting the social and intellectual experiences of reading. Since reading is a fundamental component of not only having a well-rounded education, but a well-rounded life, IUN students, faculty, and staff desired the One Book One Campus One Community Program to create awareness and an ongoing dialogue.

A large part in this undertaking was Wes Moore himself, a youth advocate, combat Veteran, New York Times Bestseller, Rhodes Scholar, host of "Beyond Belief" on the Oprah Winfrey Network, business leader, and White House Fellow.

Mr. Moore started his address Wednesday afternoon to the One Book One Campus One Community Event with the audience erupting in laughter. But by the end, he left the whole auditorium mesmerized. Explaining the hardships of his life, and the plot of his book, he wanted the goal of the manuscript to be clear:

"The story is not about good Wes and bad Wes. If you read it like that, I could argue that you haven't actually read the book at all. It's about two kids searching for more out of their lives. One kid got a positive call to action and the other did not. It's not an autobiography or memoir; it's a call to action. What can we do to keep avoidable tragedies from happening?" asked Wes Moore to a silent audience, hanging on his every word.

Moore also emphasized that there is a thin line between a life you can celebrate and a life you can masticate.  Most of us make incorrect assumptions about who people are and how they got there. Akin to the title of the novel, society is filled with "Others," Moore continued. They're people who don't look like us, talk like us, and we think we know who they are without knowing them. In Moore's life, his family, teachers, and mentors helped him understand that nothing could define or limit him.

Expectations were also a huge role in his discourse with the audience. Just like the book, today there are expectation gaps between children. Both of Wes Moore's unfortunately lived up to their expectations. "Expectations of yourself are internalized from other's expectations of you," described Moore.

"We are all here today because someone, somewhere believed we could. Those people that are not here are not because someone, somewhere, believed they couldn't."

Continuing by applauding our campus for inspiring him, Moore stated that Indiana University Northwest understands a concept that most universities do not. He believes that in higher education, what students do academically matters, but building preparation and identification of who we're going to fight for or believe in is the most important thing to take away from any university you attend.

Demonstrating this through their actions, many campus groups came together to collect books for this new initiative. Students of the university believed it was of the upmost importance that each child at Gary public schools was able to receive their own copy, of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates free of charge.

"By sustaining campus conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion, this program gives IUN students and faculty the opportunity to have in depth conversations with the community," Dr. William J. Lowe, Chancellor, expounded to his audience on Wednesday.

When I asked Wes Moore what advice he would give to students, or anyone, trying to follow the right path, but struggling to do so, his answer couldn't have made more sense, or have been more truthful.

"I would say to make sure who you surround yourself with has your best interests at heart. Wes and I both followed people who could care less about us. If you're cautious and careful, and follow your gut, you will find that good decisions begat better decisions. Or that bad decisions will begat worse decisions."

Through reading, discussing, and questioning The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, our community and campus did indeed go on a life-changing journey together as we learned more about ourselves and others through the world of literature without ever leaving Northwest Indiana. If you would like to know more about future One Book One Campus One Community events, stay informed by visiting

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