Caylin Moore wasn’t supposed to get out of Compton — not by the statistics at least. He was under-resourced and under-privileged, his family background wasn’t one of success, he was from the side of town and at a huge financial disadvantage.
But he allowed none of that to stop him from breaking the cycle of poverty, crime and abuse.
Moore’s father was in prison for murder and his mother had been abused. He wasn’t taught how to study correctly or even fed enough to thrive—and yet he did.
As multi-million dollar celebrities dole out cash to send their undeserving kids to places like USC, Moore found a fair and unlikely path towards earned, educational success that will guide him for a lifetime and provide a model for thousands of under-privileged youth who may see his achievement as a possibility for themselves.
In a recent op/ed, Moore lamented academia’s silo-ed focus on test scores, urging readers to consider that children from “humble” backgrounds obtain other, incredibly worthwhile skills, like problem solving, critical thinking and self-discipline.
“A student’s potential can’t be quantified by one test, one essay or one interview,” he writes.
Moore recognizes that his story isn’t a simple formula. The monumental accomplishment of pursuing a path out of poverty and ultimately earning a degree from Oxford may not be common for others, but he hopes to make it more so.
In his piece, Moore acknowledged a slate of teachers and mentors (including his mother), as well as athletic programs and scholarship funds that provided opportunities he wouldn’t have otherwise had. This ought to encourage individuals to remember what a difference they can make in the lives of children in need, through mentoring, financial assistance and volunteering. It’s also a reminder that there’s a never-ending need for high quality teachers, even in the most difficult school districts.
Moore closed his essay with this:
“It is possible to change a young person’s perspective, to teach him or her to dream, even in Compton…It’s why many Americans are calling for societal and educational corrections which will ensure more children get a shot at their dreams. I am the first Rhodes Scholar from Compton. I don’t expect to be the last.”
This young man may just have inspired a generation.
To learn more about Caylin Moore, in his new book “A Dream Too Big,” he shares his story of exodus from one of the most impoverished, gang-infested communities in the U.S. to the golden, dreaming spires of Oxford, England and beyond.