The Collegian
Thursday, August 06, 2020

Rick Mayes gives his "Last Lecture"

Be competent and empathetic. Become a positive deviant. Good character is better than good personality. Have someone in your life who won't hesitate to tell you the truth. Your hardest days may lie ahead because life is full of uncertainty.

These were a few of the pieces of advice that political science professor Rick Mayes gave to the attentive and responsive audience at his Last Lecture on Monday evening.

Mayes began his talk by making the point that he was not Randy Pausch, nor was he dying. Although he didn't expect his talk to have the type of emotion or significance that Pausch's did, he hoped he would be able to provide something that would resonate with at least one student.

Mayes said early in his talk that he was going to outline six concepts that would ideally lead to a more meaningful life. The following were Mayes' topics of discussion, each accompanied by examples of people, including Mayes himself, who had successfully executed them.

1. Work at least one undesirable job in your life.

2. Don't try to become great.

3. Trust someone in your life to tell you the truth.

4. Laugh.

5. Be nice, but not always.

6. Plan, but remember that life isn't always linear.

Mayes got more than a few laughs out of the audience with his honesty and willingness to share personal anecdotes about success, failure, personal doubt and striving to make good decisions for himself and for those around him.

Freshman Aastha Minocha said she had enjoyed the humor, emotion and passion that all came from Mayes during his talk. Minocha has been accepted into Mayes' Global Health Sophomore Scholars in Residence program next year and was excited to hear her future professor speak, she said. She was impressed with the talk because Mayes had successfully picked six ideas that were all relevant to his audience, she said.

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Junior Brian Guay introduced the talk to give audience members the background of how and why Mayes was chosen to give this year's Last Lecture. Guay then called upon Provost Steve Allred to introduce Mayes.

Allred noted Mayes' professional accomplishments and said Mayes and his family were welcoming when Allred first came to campus. He described Mayes as one of the professors among the handful at the top who devote themselves to undergraduate education.

After the talk, Allred said that he had appreciated Mayes' table of contents-like introduction, giving the audience a clue about what he would talk about. Guay was pleased with the turnout for Mayes' talk and thought the more than 300 students, alumni, faculty and community members present enjoyed it, he said.

Allred was glad for Guay's initiative to have a Last Lecture this year, and he hopes students will vote for a professor to speak every year.

Contact Copy Editor Maggie Burch at maggie.burch@richmond.edu

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