Ever since I can remember, as I grew up in Lower Alabama, I’ve always had a passion for two things — politics and science. I don’t really know where my interest in politics came from, but I can remember as a little boy getting up to watch the Sunday-morning political shows with my dad before church. I would see on TV the views of the Capitol, and I dreamed of one day being able to visit those historic halls where our nation’s decisions are made.
My early interest in science stemmed from my relationship with my best friend — my younger brother Everett. When Everett was two he was diagnosed with autism, and if that wasn’t difficult enough we were told that he also had Type I diabetes soon after his ninth birthday. The daily grind that he and my family go through to deal with these disorders lit a fire in me early on to learn more about science and medicine in the hopes that I could one day do something to make the lives of Everett and people like him a little bit easier.
But the rusty lab equipment and the less-than-adequate science classes offered to my “huge” high school class of 49 people didn’t provide real avenues for learning about these subjects, and so I began to learn on my own by reading about the great scientists of the past.
One such scientist whose work I came to admire was Dr. Peter Doherty, an Australian researcher who won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1996. I can remember sitting in my room and reading about Dr. Doherty and thinking that one day, if I worked hard, I might be able to work alongside someone like him and make a contribution to health care such as he did — these were both big dreams for a boy growing up in small town Alabama.
When the time came for me to apply to college, I looked for a place where I could pursue these interests and perhaps achieve some of these dreams. I fell in love with Wake Forest not only because of the beautiful campus, the great academics and the interesting students I had met here, but also because I got the sense that this was a place where if students worked hard they would have special opportunities — opportunities to serve and to learn that they wouldn’t get at other institutions. And so I set my heart on coming, here, to Wake Forest.
However, when I got my acceptance letter I felt almost gloomy — because I knew that being able to attend Wake Forest was academically possible for me, but financially impossible for my family. And so I waited intently on word from the scholarship office, and waited … and waited … for what seemed like an eternity, until one day in April I got word that I had received a Heritage Scholarship that would allow me to come to Winston-Salem. I was so excited that I immediately rejected offers from other schools and decided to come to Wake Forest that very day.
The sense that I got about this place on my first visit has proven to be even more true than I could ever have imagined. The summer after my freshman year I got to take that long-awaited trip to Washington, D.C., and to work in the Capitol building — the same place I had dreamed of working on those Sunday mornings in Alabama. This past summer I did research in Memphis, Tenn., in the lab of none other than the intellectual hero of my childhood, Dr. Peter Doherty.
I tell you this because in this room I’m not the exception, but the rule. All of us here today have had opportunities which otherwise would have been unattainable, and it is your generosity that made this possible.
As a Heritage Scholar I didn’t get to sit this morning with my scholarship donor because he or she has chosen to remain anonymous. And so, in a way, I feel as if each of the donors here this morning has given me the opportunity to come to Wake Forest. And so to each of you today I would like to say thank you for letting me come here to learn, thank you for letting those seemingly impossible dreams of my childhood become a reality, and most importantly thank you for letting me be a Demon Deacon.
Carson Moseley (’09), biology major from Greenville, Ala.