Book Review: The Last Lecture

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted"

I recently just finished the book that follows up on the "last lecture" by fellow proud nerd, Randy Pausch, nearly a decade after his death (he passed in July 2008), and a decade to the day after the now famous lecture. I've been getting knee deep in death lately (which seems to be a trend, especially with some of my movie reviews). I've been watching The Leftovers, where coping with loss is a major theme. The Last Lecture is the dream scenario for many in that show, where someone knows the end is coming, and is more able to cope and prepare, and tell the people around him the impact they've had on him, as well as the future he hopes for.

The book expands on the speech, and reflects on it. I had always heard about this video, but never really delved into it. I sat down to watch it after I read the book and in preparation of this post. I'm glad I did. It's nice to look back long after he has passed to keep moving his message on. It's a simple, positive one that cuts through a lot of the cynicism and negativity around us. While I can certainly acknowledge his upbringing gave him a lot of benefits, simple advice sometimes helps to affirm what we all as humans should strive for.

I love the quote above, as it is something I'm currently grappling with and have had to come to terms with in the past. I look forward to the clarity of hindsight as I move forward (if only it was given to us in the moment).

As I said, I've been watching The Leftovers, which deals with loss, and I think we should all also be a lot more grateful for the time we have with those we care about, and we should tell them what they mean to us. I got married when it may have been sooner than some were expecting. But I was ready to marry my wife when I proposed, and I didn't want to wait any longer to be her husband.

I encourage you to give the video another viewing if you haven't seen it in a while. It's a simple, pure, and will help you to reflect on where you are, where you've been, and where you want to go. It will also help to honor a man who loved life, and lived it fully.

Five Things I Learned From My Mom

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I would write about my own mother, who I owe so much of who I am today and my success to. I don't write about her often (or at all really) but that just was probably because I didn't know how. Now, with this special day as an appropriate context, let me tell you a little bit about her.


I am humble, almost to a fault sometimes. But I would rather be someone who lets his work speak for him than someone who is just the loudest person in the room without much basis for their outspoken confidence. I've grown a lot with balancing confidence with humility, but I know I got my humility from my mom, who is easily flattered like me, and doesn't do anything for the attention or acclaim. She works hard and does right by her kids and family. Which leads me to my next point...

Hard Work

My mom worked hard to support me and my brother for a while after it became just the three of us. She has worked hard all of her life, getting by and allowing for her children to have food, a safe place to call home, and thrive as adults. I think a lot of success comes down to grit and perseverance. A lot of people will give up when the going gets tough or just take the easy path, so a lot of success (I will concede that there is certainly a lot more to it if you want to dig really deep) boils down to just who is left working hard each day. You have to keep going and keep the goals you have in mind to inspire you. I know I have a pretty awesome example of a hard working parent to live up to whenever I have children of my own.


Something else I know I got from my mom is her caring spirit. She's a hugger, and a generally loving, empathetic person. I am the same way (except for the hugging, I tend to wait for someone to give me a cue they want a hug first) and I know I learned it from my mom. She loves me and my brother a lot and tells us often, so I am comfortable with expressing my feelings for others and genuinely care for people. Whether that is trying to do right by my students or wishing the best for friends, past and present, I just want people I care about to be happy. I always appreciate how open and welcoming my mom is.


Due a lot to my mom's support, I eventually built up my confidence after growing up being a shy kid for most of my life. She has always had my back as I start my life and go in whatever direction I think is best, so I know even if things don't work out, she is there to help me. Even as adult life continues to provide me with unique new challenges, my mom helps support me through all of it, which gives me exponentially growing confidence to face the next new hurdle. I appreciate her love and support always, and I know it will continue as I keep facing new adventures in my life.


Raising two boys definitely teaches patience (I would assume). My mom was pretty patient with us, humoring us whenever we needed it and also not giving into all of our demands. We learned that sometimes good things come to those who wait. We learned that you can't get everything you want right away. We never had a lot growing up, but we had enough, and that was fine. I have always been a patient person, and I'm sure learning to wait from my mom as I grew up had a lot to do with that. It's important to not always be anticipating the next thing. We should be still, and appreciate what we have, and be willing to wait for whatever is next to come when it is supposed to.

Let your mother know that you appreciate her and how she has impacted your life!

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

2015 Year in Review

My life in 2015 went in some very cool directions, some planned, others were happy surprises. 2015 was the second full calendar year of this blog (started in April 2013) that had my first guest contributors, my first eBook, and just continued to grow the audience of the blog as a whole. I had over 10K views in 2015, which is fantastic as a milestone itself, but also a sizable growth from the year prior. I also hit 1K followers on Twitter, which was a nice milestone to celebrate for myself as I work to continue to grow the audience for this blog and the podcast (which had an awesome year too!). I look forward to continuing to improve the blog (like the recent layout redesign) and bring some new folks in to help with some of the stuff I can't do as well as they could, like graphics and writing about different things.

2015 had some cool things happen for me personally too. I did some adulting like starting a retirement account (!). I also traveled to a bunch of cool places I had never been before for both work and pleasure. I went to Tampa for ACPA 2015, which I presented at with my fantastic colleague, Krista Klein, which was really cool. I also visited my friend in Chicago over the summer as well as seeing Boston when my partner was interning in the area. I lastly had the trip of a lifetime for me going to San Diego Comic Con for the full experience, which was a dream come true. I took a bunch of photos and I will cherish the memories I made on these trips. I look forward to continuing the momentum I've had for the past few years of traveling to new places for various reasons. It's always a lot of fun!

2016 is looking to be a big year for me. My partner will finish up school, we'll both be getting new jobs and moving to a new area together after that (at the latest), and my brother is going to be getting married, just to name a few things. Hopefully there are more milestones to come for the blog, the podcast, and for me personally. I feel good about 2015 and what I accomplished and am looking forward to 2016!

Thanks to everyone who visited the site and helped sustain this effort. It means a lot and I appreciated all of your continued support!

The Power of Student Government in Shaping the Campus Community

* This post was originally featured on The Student Affairs Hub.

College students have long used the campus environment to work towards positive social change. The very nature of a university encourages this sort of intellectual discourse, and a common way for students to get involved in making a difference on campus is through student government. It allows for students to debate important campus topics, and provides a platform for the institution to directly hear the needs of the student body.

The beauty of student government is that it is typically accessible to all students. New incoming students can be encouraged to find a voice within this organization, meet fellow students, and start making their legacy known at their institution (Trust me, they'll thank you for the legacy stuff come graduation time).

I found out about the power of student government far too late into my undergraduate career. In my final year, I was passionate about getting hydration stations installed on campus, to provide cold, clean and filtered water in a sustainable way that would reduce the use of plastic water bottles while encouraging healthier habits in students. I realized a way to start to make this change possible was to lobby the student government to accept a stance of advocating for these to become a part of the community. Once they accepted, within months there were a few of these stations popping up around campus. This felt so inspiring to accomplish in such a short amount of time!

Perhaps they were already planning on doing this, but at the very least, through my efforts, the student body representatives let their voice be heard and for the future, the administration would know that students wanted to have the hydration stations and would feel more accountable to do so.

Especially for new, incoming students, building confidence, connections, and communication skills are all pretty valuable goals for student affairs professionals. So I encourage you to empower your students to get involved in student government. Even more importantly, I encourage you to bring students to the table and let them be heard when it comes to decision making. They'll have some important insights and they are the ones who it will affect, so I think it is only fair to hear them out. At the very least, they'll benefit from the experience.

Reflections on My Chat with ACPA President Gavin Henning

SAC Podcast I recently interviewed ACPA President Gavin Henning for The Student Affairs Spectacular Podcast which went out as a quick bonus episode in addition to our usual offerings. It was a great opportunity that I am grateful to have had.

Gavin has been making himself very accessible recently, which is very refreshing in my opinion. Usually, someone in his position would seem to be very out of reach, but Gavin has been giving much of time to do interviews, Twitter chats, and even the podcast! I hope that student affairs folks have been engaging with all of this great content, since it allows for the veil to be lifted on how someone gets to be ACPA President in the first place, and humanizes the whole organization. Accessibility and transparency are big for me, and I appreciate when leadership embodies these values.

I think more organizations should take a cue from ACPA and their recent efforts. You can engage a community a lot more by being free and open with communication versus having everything tightly controlled and infrequent. ACPA has been my professional home of choice for the past few years as I've entered the field, and while I think no one is perfect, they've done a lot of great work recently that I know has benefited the field.

While I don't think I'll be pursuing the ACPA presidency any time soon, it is nice to know more of Gavin's story and that if you work hard and commit to something, good things will come out of it. Things like that are reassuring to hear for a young professional like myself.

Check out some of the other interviews Gavin has done with some fine colleagues, Kimberly White and Brian Proffer (also both are past guests of the podcast!).

Thanks for stopping by!

Reflecting On All the Things I've Done

Clist2 I have felt at some points in my life that I have had a tragically mundane, ordinary life that hasn't had much good or bad happen in it. It was a depressing thought to consider, especially in my darker moments, but recently, I've taken time to sit down and put my mental energy to work writing down all my "greatest hits" (just like with Charlie Pace in one my favorite television shows of all time, Lost). Moments in my life, big or small, that I'm proud of. They include the places I've traveled, the accomplishments I've achieved, and the small things we should all think of more. Here are some specific examples of what I'm talking about:

  • Smiled so much my face hurt
  • Presented at a national conference
  • Visited Las Vegas, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC
  • Gone to a comedy club
  • Gave good lives to my pets

Some of these things are concrete experiences in my life that I am happy to have done. Even if they aren't that special to others, they're special to me. Others are things I look back and affirm for myself. People can have regrets, doubts, and think negatively about the experiences in their life, but I challenge myself to think positively. I can never know for certain if I gave a good life for my pets, they can't tell me, but I choose to believe that I did based on the memories I have and the things I did for my two wonderful dogs I had growing up.

I'm keeping a list of experiences I want to partake in before I turn 30 in a few years. I'm making intentional efforts to accomplish them and keep updating my list of "greatest hits". It will help me in my darker moments realize that I have lived a full life and have the ability to take actions to make change my life.

I encourage folks to do something similar to this to keep the positivity flowing in their lives. Things like this or a happiness journal can let us be more mindful of what happens around us each day, and what brings us joy.

Thanks for stopping by!