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Mr. Ruggles – Last Lecture Part One

I would be remiss if I did not start off this talk without labeling who I am, and have been against my will and decision from birth. You may have heard of us at your local place of worship or even heard the stories of how we can either be good kids or bad kids depending how rebellious we are. I am a pastor’s kid. Looking back at it though, what it really meant was that I had a much larger family and a second home, both of which I had the privilege to see on a regular basis. Growing up in the church is something that definitely shaped who I was. I learned from an early age the role of faith in my life, and that in fact that phrase that is often heard at church, “Jesus loves you,” is really true. At times, though, I did question what he was when we moved from the northern Twin Cities to the southern side between sixth and seventh grade. Thanks to my dad being a pastor we had to leave my friends, soccer team, and orchestra all behind, but I came away believing and trusting that I would always have one man on my side no matter where I was. That man is Jesus Christ. As a result of me being a pastor’s kid and growing up in a supportive Christian environment, my faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation for my life.
That does not mean as a child that I did not have questions. I had so many questions as child about life, family, my future career, and the whole notion of faith. However, there has been one constant in my life that I have been really thankful for – two very supportive parents being there for me every step of the way. I could always count on them to be at all my athletic events, music concerts, or whatever type of event it was. And not only were they present, but they were supportive of my goals. If it was working hard at goalkeeping for soccer to make the team in high school, they drove me to private goalie training. If it was playing like Yo Yo Ma, the world’s greatest cellist, they provided me with a cello to pursue that goal. If it was getting an A in math, my least favorite subject, my dad would spend a few hours every night helping me with my homework. To that end, my parents often told me, “Randon, we’re here for you.” And they were literally there for me at every point that I needed, wanted, and at times when I did not want them to be. Looking around at my friends and their parent situation, I knew that I was lucky to have the parental involvement in my life. It was not only my parents supporting me, but it was also my whole extended family. Both sets of grandparents and my extended family have been supportive of everything I have done since birth. They genuinely cared, and still care, about what I am doing, where I am going, and the real difference I am making in the world. There are many times I remember going to both of my grandparent’s houses and hearing them tell me, “Don’t forget Randon, we love you.” That is not something that everyone hears every day from their grandparents. I also got that support and love from my parents all the time. They modeled love in our home with their relationship, how they dealt with other family friends, and how they spent their time. My dad in particular, spent more time serving others than doing things for him self. I truly believe that his actions have shaped me as a person today. Finally, I will never forget going to bed as a child. I would brush my teeth, change, and climb into the bunk beds that my brother and I shared and then wait for my dad. He would come in and read to us from The Hardy Boys adventure series and then pray with us before we went to bed. His desire to inspire the love of learning through reading books, along with his faith, and the overall supportive nature of my parents and extended family have shaped who I am today.
In addition to being supportive, my parents have always wanted me to reach for the clouds. As a child I remember spending many afternoons playing outside with milk cartoons that turned into castles, boats, and a whole variety of things, in a sand box where I was the head construction manager, and in the snow where I was the structural manager of our forts. What I did outside translated to my desires inside to participate in the orchestra program, which my parents supported by providing private lessons and club soccer, which my parents supported by spending money and time driving me to and from games, practices, and tournaments across the country. My parents were not only supportive of these ventures, but they encouraged them. To the point of when I was having a bad day on the field or the notes from my room did not sound quiet right, I would always chat with my dad about what was going on. He would always come out and let me know, “You can do it Randon, I have faith in you.” When I had aspirations of slalom waterskiing, I heard those words, when I did not do as well on a math exam I heard those words, and when I thought I could not stop the forward from the other team, I once again heard those words. My parents encouraged me to reach for the clouds, that no dream was too big, and then to obtain those goals. I remember many times as a child getting into a small twin-engine airplane and flying up into the clouds with my grandpa and grandma and literally reaching for the clouds. My parents have raised me to dream big, set big goals, and then to reach for the clouds in everything I do. Although, even when I do not think I can do it, my dad is there with his famous words, “You can do it.” Having that type of encouragement to reach the clouds has allowed me to achieve many dreams at such a young age. It still affects me today because I continue to reach for the clouds with their support every step of the way.
From birth to high school I have learned many lessons and things about the world. Growing up in a Christian home and as a pastor’s kid has provided for a solid foundation of faith in my life to be put in place. My parents and extended family have been supportive since day one of what I want to do, whether that was playing the cello or being a star on the soccer field. They have also instilled in me a desire to reach for the clouds, literally, and to achieve my dream. No dream is too big, and my dad has been, and will be there, every step of the way reminding me that I can do it. In all reality, I started off as a pastor’s kid by birth, but a life is what you make it to be. As a child I lived life under my parent’s wing, although as a high school student I started to branch out and learned new lessons about life, living, and truly making a difference in the world around me.