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CMU service honors Randy Pausch

| Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

When Mrittika Bhaumik began her freshman year at Carnegie Mellon University last month, Randy Pausch had already died.

Still, she and her classmates learned a powerful lesson from the professor.

"If you're trying to achieve a goal, you need to give it your all, you need to fight for it," said Bhaumik, 18. "He showed us that life's too short. You need to live each day to its fullest."

Nearly 700 people gathered in Rangos Ballroom -- Carnegie Mellon University's largest hall -- Monday afternoon for a memorial service for Pausch, a computer science professor who died of pancreatic cancer on July 25. He was 47.

Last September, about a month after learning the cancer would be terminal, the father of three young children gave an inspirational speech about achieving childhood dreams. It became an Internet sensation and was turned into a best-selling book, "The Last Lecture."

The book was given to all incoming freshmen as part of their orientation materials.

"It gave me a different perspective on how I view everything," said freshman Clara Baron-Hyppolite, 18. "When I think about how something so bad happened to Randy Pausch and yet he kept smiling ... that taught me to get over the little bumps and focus on the big picture."

In the months that followed his lecture, Pausch agreed to numerous media requests, always making sure to mention Carnegie Mellon, even getting it on the cover of his book. He was the school's biggest cheerleader, said President Jared Cohon.

"He gave a glimpse into Carnegie Mellon, a place that would allow a professor to do the things he did. It was a place where Randy could thrive," he said. "And he let the world know that."

Andy van Dam, Pausch's computer science professor during his undergraduate education at Brown University and his enduring mentor, spoke at Pausch's original speech. He returned to Carnegie Mellon yesterday to reflect on Pausch's final year of life.

"Why did Randy strike such a chord, why did he have such resonance?" he asked. "I believe it was because people instantly understood that he was the real deal."

"He wasn't larger than life," van Dam said. "He lived life large and well, exceedingly well."

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