Kucia to speak for this fall’s “Last Lecture” series

-Tiffany Babb, contributing writer 

Imagine only having one more chance to share your thoughts and wisdom with others. These are the circumstances that Randy Pausch experienced when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008. After he knew he was dying, he gave his ‘last lecture’ as a college professor. Pausch’s lecture was written in a book which has inspired millions and motivated many colleges, including Mississippi College, to take up a Last Lecture series.

In his lecture, Pausch did not discuss history, science or mathematics, but rather focused on what he believed were key components for having a successful life. Pausch discussed four different areas. These included achieving childhood dreams, lessons learned, enabling others, and a brief instruction on how students should take control of living their lives. Piera Gravenor, superintendent of the Delsea Regional School District, said “its simple prose and profound message about the importance of pursuing one’s dreams and seizing every moment is dramatically relevant.”

Having a “last lecture” where a college professor gives advice and wisdom to students as if it was the last lecture they would ever give has been a tradition on many campuses and grew in popularity after Pausch’s book. Mississippi College has also become involved in this tradition in the past four years.

This year’s Last Lecture will take place on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Aven Hall and is open for all students to attend. This year’s candidate will be Mignon Kucia, professor in the communication department. Kucia was selected by members of the Mississippi College Mortar Board to give the lecture.


            “I’m excited about the lecture,” Kucia said. “I felt surprised and honored when I received this offer.”

Kucia will be speaking on the concept of victims vs. survivors. Her angle will show how individuals in American society tend to play victim in the majority of situations. It will show how a change in a person’s thinking patterns can actually have an impact on the outcome of his or her situation.

Kucia said, “The way we think has a lot to do with the way we react.”

Each semester one professor is chosen by Mortar Board, an honorary group of MC students, to give the “Last Lecture.” Up to this point there has not been a candidate that was actually dying. A few of them were going into retirement, but most have simply been asked to imagine that the lecture is actually their last. This tradition was designed to give faculty a chance to share what they are passionate about, as well as give students an opportunity to absorb wisdom from their teachers.

Some professors in other parts of the country such as Theoni Smith at the University of Tampa, have used the biography about Pausch’s lecture to inspire students to think further in the future than just graduation. Smith teaches orientation, and he actually uses the basic outline of the Last Lecture for his syllabus. He teaches four different sections that correlate with the four different areas covered by Pausch. Smith said, “These themes can easily be tailored to various college courses including English composition, psychology, philosophy, and introduction to education.”

For more details on the “Last Lecture” given at MC contact Mignon Kucia at kucia@mc.edu.


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