Matthew W.

Powell, Ohio

"Everyone goes through their teenage phase; it will pass," said my parents while I was going through my adolescent years. Despite my parents' reassuring words, I felt that this phase of sadness and confusion would never go away. Such was my situation on my 15th birthday, when I heard a news report about a man named Randy Pausch. The news was reporting on the death of this man, and at first, I had no interest in another story about the unforgiving nature of life. However, when the news story talked about his legacy, The Last Lecture, I became more interested and immediately went to obtain my own copy of The Last Lecture. His last lecture inspired me to start my own clean slate with a new perspective and passion for life. This unexpected gift of life has and will be the greatest birthday present that I had ever received.

When I was a child, I always wanted to be a professional piano player, a professional tennis player, or a backup dancer for Britney Spears. Since then I have discarded all my childhood dreams and replaced them with what I thought were more realistic dreams: doctor, professor, or engineer; however, Pausch said, "It is not about achieving your dreams but living your life". If living my life required me to devote all my time and energy to tennis, so be it. Although the idea of a professional tennis player is interesting, I realize now that living my life to its fullest potential requires me to pursue a major in the medical field. I am not completely abandoning my childhood dreams though. Practicing the piano and tennis will always be part of my life, and one day I may be able to play at the next level. As for the dream of becoming Britney Spear's backup dancer, I am willing to put that on hold for now.

Through his words, Randy Pausch saved me. In addition to saving me from the horrors of my teenage years, I received an additional message from his last lecture, which is to bring the same joy he brought me to others. My way with words may not be as riveting, so I decided to help others in a more direct fashion by becoming a doctor. When I do become a doctor, I hope to cure various ailments that plague the lives of others, including pancreatic cancer, which took the life of Randy Pausch.

Perhaps my decision to major in the medical field may be short-lived, I may choose to major in journalism, engineering, or computer science, but as of now I believe medical knowledge will help me save others as The Last Lecture saved me. My parents were right about the passing my teenage years, but I have Randy Pausch to primarily thank, because in his death, my new life was born from his gifts of fulfilling dreams.