MAY 2012 UPDATE: Jai’s book was just released; read my review here!
According to a report in USA Today, Jai Pausch will be writing an inspirational book about how she faced the challenge of her husband’s death at age 47 from pancreatic cancer, leaving her to raise their three young children. The Pausch family became very famous as a result of Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon University, delivered in September 2007 and popularized as a video on YouTube. Randy Pausch was a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon until his death in July 2008.
Because the video of his lecture received millions of hits on line, the Pausch family was profiled several times on ABC news and other media outlets. Pausch collaborated with Jeffrey Zaslow to expand the original lecture into a bestselling book – The Last Lecture – published by Hyperion. During his last year Randy Pausch also became known as an energetic lobbyist for funding to support research aimed at finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.
Message of the Last Lecture
Randy Pausch was an engaging upbeat character who used his “last lecture” opportunity at Carnegie Mellon to talk about Really Achieving Childhood Dreams, including his dreams to experience zero gravity, publish an article in World Book Encyclopedia, meet Captain Kirk, play in the NFL, and become a Disney Imagineer. He also talked about enabling others to achieve their dreams, as he often did as a Carnegie Mellon professor. His course “Building Virtual Worlds,” was a campus phenomenon and launched the careers of students who became successful in special effects for the Star Wars films and in comparable roles.
Because Pausch was expected to live only months after his talk, all his words and images took on intense poignancy. He married in his late 30’s for the first time and he and his attractive, articulate wife Jai had three children-Dylan, Logan, and Chloe. He made many references to his family during his lecture (and book) and at the end he invited Jai to blow out candles on a birthday cake while the entire audience sang to her. He met Jai while visiting the University of North Carolina, where she was a graduate student in Comparative Literature.
Throughout Randy Pausch’s illness and the fame he gained from the last lecture, Jai Pausch was steady, composed, and supportive. In joint interviews, the connection between the two was palpable. Randy and Jai worked hard to stay positive and make as many family memories as possible during his last months. They moved from Pittsburgh to Virginia so Jai and the children would be closer to her family support system.
Jai Pausch Activities Since Randy’s Death
Jai Pausch agreed to be interviewed by People magazine in May 2009 (“Life After Randy”) as the first anniversary of Randy’s death approached. She said that she and the children were fine, and Randy was very much a subject of their daily conversations. She also said that at first she watched recordings of Randy (such as the last lecture video) frequently, but eventually realized that it was too painful to continue.
Most recently, Jai has been in the news for accompanying her oldest son, Dylan, now 8 years old, to Washington, D.C. in June 2010 to lobby the U.S. Congress for increased funds dedicated to pancreatic cancer research. She was also on hand at Disney World in early 2009 when a permanent feature was added to the park near the Alice in Wonderland attraction in Randy Pausch’s honor. At the same time Disney announced the creation of the Disney Memorial Pausch Fellowships to fund graduate study at Carnegie Mellon-one for a Computer Science student and one for a Fine Arts student.
Jai Pausch and her children have a great deal to be proud of in the life of Randy Pausch. He was not only a one-in-a-million college professor, but a person who conveyed to millions his intense and joyful approach to life through the medium of his Last Lecture. Jai Pausch’s book, which is expected to be released in 2012, will provide a fuller picture of this remarkable man and his family.
“Jai Pausch to Write Inspirational Book” in USA Today on line, October 7, 2010.
“Dying Professor’s Lecture of a Lifetime” on ABC News on line
“Disney Honors Randy Pausch with Memorial Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon” Press release from Disney Corp., February 6, 2009.
“Son of Randy Pausch, ‘Last Lecturer,’ Follows in His Father’s Footsteps,” by Margaret Aro and Jessica Hopper on ABC News on line, June 22, 2010.
“Randy Pausch” from Wikipedia