Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Alex wants to know about Randy Pausch, who died July twenty-fifth of pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-seven.
Randy Pausch giving his ''last lecture''
Professor Pausch became famous around the world for a talk he gave to his students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He gave the talk last September, after doctors told him he had only a few months left to live. He called it his "last lecture."
Randy Pausch was famous in his field of computer science. He taught videogame and virtual reality technology. He had helped develop a well known educational software tool called Alice. It lets students create three-dimensional computer animations.
But Randy Pausch's last lecture was not about that subject. His talk was called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow reported on the talk. The newspaper's Web site broadcast a video of it on the Internet. Millions of people have seen it.
Professor Pausch spoke to about four hundred students. He said you have to play the cards you are dealt in life. How you play those cards is your only choice. In other words, he could not change the deadly cancer, but only how he lived his remaining days.
For the next hour or so, Professor Pausch talked about his childhood dreams. They included experiencing zero gravity. He told how he had reached this goal as an adult.
Some of his students won a NASA competition to use the space agency's astronaut weightlessness training equipment. NASA told Mister Pausch that as a professor he could not take part. So he thought up a new plan to get around the problem. He got a press pass and experienced zero gravity as a reporter. Mister Pausch told the story to demonstrate the barriers that people may find in the way of their dreams.
Randy Pausch also told his students that helping other people fulfill their childhood dreams was even more fun than reaching his own. He called on his fellow professors and students to go on without him and do great things.
Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow wrote a book together called "The Last Lecture." It became a best seller. It has been translated into thirty languages. Mister Pausch also raised money and awareness for pancreatic cancer research.
Randy Pausch left behind a wife and three very young children. He said the last lecture was meant to be a "message in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children."