Every year a Rowan University staff member is chosen to impart their wisdom on the student body at “Last Lecture.” For the sixth annual event, Director of Student Activities, Constantine Alexakos, gave his first “last” lecture ever.
The event this past Tuesday, Dec. 1, was based off of a lecture given by Randy Pausch, a former professor at Carnegie Mellon University who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Rather than do nothing, he decided to give a final lecture titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” to share his wisdom with the world. Shortly after, he wrote a book about his experience, titled “The Last Lecture.”
For Rowan’s version of the event, a poll was sent out to students asking them to nominate staff members to give a lecture. Afterwards, the nominees were contacted and asked if they would like to be part of the final poll. If they agreed to be involved, students could vote on who they wanted to see the most.
Alexakos was the winner of the poll, and based his lecture on the question, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
“When I found out I would be giving this lecture, I revisited that question and I started thinking about my life. [The] times in my life when it was a dark, and I was very depressed and lonely and didn’t have confidence,” Alexakos said.
Alexakos spoke about his journey to where he is now, telling the audience of his experience as a chef’s apprentice, his time at the University of West Florida and his visit to Greece, where his family is from. He emphasized his family’s importance, sharing pictures and anecdotes of them.
“Every part of my life has shaped me to who I am now, I’ve taken and learned from these experiences.” Alexakos said.
Audience members included students, alumni and Alexakos’ family, who traveled from Florida to support him. Many people approached Alexakos after his lecture to give their congratulations and share their feelings.
“To come to this and hear about family stories and funny stories and actually learn more about things he values outside the workplace is what I enjoyed a lot,” said Mariah Francisco, a senior biology major.
Freshman English and history double major Riley Shea concurred, citing Alexakos’ “truly genuine” nature as what made the lecture engaging.
“It’s hard to think that Constantine planned this lecture ahead of time,” Shea said. “You can tell that everything he says comes directly from the heart.”
Although he’s not a professor, Alexakos was grateful for the opportunity to share his history and wisdom with the Rowan community.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, share my story,” Alexakos said. “It was easier than I thought. Once I got up there things started to flow. The best part is watching the kids take what you’ve taught and apply it. I love that.”
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