Rhodes Scholar and novelist of the book “A Dream Too Big” Caylin Moore gave an inspiring speech about his life to the students of the Sally McDonald Barksdale Honors College Thursday night at the Honors Convocation.
Moore emphasized openness to new experiences and scholarly questioning as the key elements of finding a meaningful path. The most important thing in the pursuit of meaning lies in what Moore calls being “duty-bound,” a phrase that he borrows from a firefighter he spoke to in Texas.
The firefighter, similarly to Moore, found meaning in his career path based on the experiences and challenges he had faced.
As a Texas Christian University alum, Moore inspired students to find a path that is meaningful to them, or one that brings positive change to a larger cause. Moore made sure to emphasize the fact that his gleaming resume filled with recognitions and awards was not his motivation for his actions.
“It’s because I was duty-bound, and I’m still duty-bound, and I will be duty-bound no matter what,” he said.
While at TCU, Moore secured a Fulbright and a Rhodes scholarship. He then went on to study public policy at Oxford University in England.
“These accumulations of experiences can take a different shape or different form for all of you,” he said.
At the beginning of his speech, the speaker started with a story borrowed from the book titled, “Power of Meaning” by Emily Esfahani Smith. In the book while Kate was recovering from brain surgery following a car crash, her father learned that she had beaten extremely slim odds of survival. Her nurses and doctors found meaning in their work through Kate.
Moore took this example and encouraged his audience to find work that they found just as meaningful. He believes part of a meaningful path involves helping the public good.
By understanding his past, Moore certainly found a meaningful path for himself.
Growing up in Compton, Moore was faced with the barriers of poverty and racism. He shared a powerful story involving an afternoon in which he was walking his little brother home from school. The two were stopped by police, and Moore and his brother were told to stand against the wall. His face was cut against the wall and he started bleeding.
Terrified, Moore questioned why the police — the people who were supposed to protect him — would target someone like him. He was only nine years old.
In another anecdote, Moore and his friends at school, only six years old at the time, discussed what they will do when they go to prison — not if.
“I tell these stories to paint a picture of what contemporary American poverty looks like,” Moore said.
Despite the adversity, Moore took these experiences and turned them into fuel. Knowing his stories weren’t entirely unique, he wanted to do something about it.
While at TCU on a football scholarship, he used his elevated platform as a student-athlete to spread awareness about experiences similar to his. He and a few of his teammates started an organization called SPARK — Strong Players Are Reaching Kids — to “speak life into a dying situation” and help their community.
In his speech, Moore brought light to the fact that Oxford is in a very similar economic situation. There are communities around us today that are struggling.
“They didn’t need an autograph. They didn’t need a signed football. They needed hope,” he said.
He also encouraged students to question in order to find “that thing inside of you where you say, ‘This is something that I’m passionate about. This is something that is a worthwhile pursuit.’”