The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture was a very inspirational story, but the description on the inside cover does not do it justice. Randy Pausch, the author of the novel, has a very positive philosophy on life that he shares in this book, despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only three to six months of good health to live. Randy was a professor at Carnegie Mellon, teaching students how to create virtual realities, but also ensuring that all of his students were living to their full potential to achieve their dreams. After Randy was diagnosed with his illness in 2007, he was determined to give a lecture at his school, as part of a “Journeys” series, which gave Carnegie Mellon professors the opportunity to reflect on their lives leading up to and following their career as a teacher. Although his wife wanted Randy to spend every moment of his limited time on Earth with his family, Randy knew that his lecture and book that followed would have a longer and more pronounced impact in the world that his family, friends and students could continue to learn from, long past his death. After all, this book does a far better job communicating the phenomenal life Randy Pausch lived, that his friends and family could have never explained, and may not have even realized. In his lecture, Randy teaches how to live a fulfilling life and achieve one’s dreams, no matter how large or impossible these aspirations may seem. As Randy explains, his childhood dreams consisted of experiencing the phenomenon of zero gravity, being Captain Kirk, and becoming a Disney Imagineer. Although all of these fantasies seem far from reality, Randy to some extent achieved all of them, but it was his perseverance, self-confidence, and at times sheer dumb luck that led him on a successful journey. Randy proceeds to explain how as a professor at Carnegie Mellon, while he continued to pursue his own dreams by developing Alice, a computer software program that can teach anyone about computer science in fun and engaging ways, he also helped further the ambitions of his own students, many of whom may have never have been as successful without the encouragement, wisdom and experiences Randy shared them with. I really enjoyed this novel, and feel that it is important for high school and college students to read, especially those who may not be living to their full potential because of fear or a lack of self-confidence in their abilities. Randy proves that it is possible to live our dreams; in order to live a happy life, we have to be willing to chase these dreams, despite the possibilities of failure and despite the challenges that await. Because we simply do not know how much time we have or whether or not we will always have a second chance for success. Randy’s story truly captures his positive philosophy in life that we should all aspire to have, and was written out of his genuine desire to help others live a life as fulfilling as his own. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone, and was pleasantly surprised to find such an inspirational book on the high school’s required summer reading list.






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