Last Lecture

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According to Randy Pausch “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand” (Pausch & Zaslow, 2008). At 47 Pausch, a college professor at Carnegie Mellon University, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He then decided to write The Last Lecture.

In their last year professors are often asked to give a talk, their last lecture, in which they reflect on their experiences. While they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? What would we want as our legacy?

This text is both inspiring and powerful. Pausch tells life stories that illustrate such themes as dreaming big, hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, self-confidence, modesty, courage, a positive outlook, and dealing with adversity. All who read this book will find themselves not wanting it to end as story after story, we get a glimpse of Pausch’s life. Pausch believed that he won the parent lottery. He was influenced by his loving and supportive parents. Early in life he painted things that mattered to him on his bedroom walls such as a large silver elevator door, geometric shapes, chess pieces, Pandora’s Box, and a quadratic formula. Among these the quadratic formula mattered most to him. Growing up Pausch had many experiences and learned lessons from them. He recounted experiences playing football that taught him lessons about the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, hard work and the ability to deal with adversity. He remembered going through his dad’s things after his dad died. Among them were a citation for heroic achievement and a bronze star for valor his dad received while in the Army. His father had never mentioned these to him. Pausch says that he learned a lesson about sacrifice and modesty that day.

As a child he loved Disney World and dreamed of becoming a Disney Imagineer. Few achieve such dreams much less get the opportunity to achieve them. He got that opportunity...
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