Tuesdays with Chet: Last Lecture Series speaker shares life lessons

Tuesday night, Chet Cooper, a Youngstown State University associate professor of biology, lectured about life lessons and family and reencountered personal stories as part of Student Government Association’s Last Lecture Series.
The Last Lecture Series is based on the novel “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. Each semester, SGA nominates a handful of contenders for the keynote speaker of the annual lecture. The speaker will present as if it were the final lecture that he will ever give.
Cooper said he was very surprised when SGA approached him about being their pick for this semester’s last lecture series speaker.
“I was stunned,” Cooper said. “I felt very honored because there are so many worthwhile people on this campus and just the fact they nominated me to lecture was an honor.”
Cooper is a biology professor and is also the chair of Academic Senate, an adviser for SGA, the president of the Youngstown State University Research Foundation and an umpire for Little League Baseball — which included a role in last year’s Little League World Series
In his lecture, Cooper used personal experiences to back up his philosophical words to live by, which were heavily influenced by things his mother, father, siblings and wife have told him throughout his life. He also incorporated humor and family photographs into his lecture to make the event interesting
and fun.
Cooper said it took him a long time to figure out everything he wanted to talk about in his lecture.
“I just had to figure out what would be valuable to people,” Cooper said. “Then I thought, ‘Why not just tell them how I grew up?’ and show them the things I value and that my family values too.”
Eighty-two students filled the Williamson Hall auditorium to listen to Cooper’s lecture.
Cooper said he was very surprised with the turnout that he received.
“I was quite surprised,” Cooper said. “It was a lot more than I expected and there was such a broad spectrum of people there from students from different backgrounds.”
Stephanie Davis, a sophomore education major, said she enjoyed Cooper’s lecture and took a lot away from what he spoke about.
“I really liked how he combined humor and a sentiment to create a lasting message,” Davis said. “Personally, I really liked his lesson on mediocrity. Like Dr. Cooper said, I believe that people should strive to be excellent in all they do, not mediocre.”
Cooper said that his favorite life lesson taught on Tuesday was his lesson on mediocrity and how one cannot settle for mediocrity.
“My students and family are both tired of hearing about it,” Cooper said. “Mediocrity is not an acceptable standpoint and everything will eventually fall into place if you strive for greatness.”
Davis also said she enjoyed Cooper’s lesson on the saying “Don’t cry for me” from Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor.
“So many people in this world are hurting and it is silly for me to complain about the little things I have to deal with,” Davis said. “His lesson really put it all into perspective for me.”
After the program, Cooper said many students came up and thanked him for the advice and that they had plenty of messages to take away from the lecture.
“There is so much you can say at one of those lectures,” Cooper said. “I was just gratified to have the opportunity to say something.”