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LaCombe Stresses Humility

For The Heights

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, professor Amy LaCombe presented in Yawkey Center as part of the Last Lecture Series. LaCombe is a senior lecturer in the Portico faculty of the Carroll School of Management (CSOM). She has been given several awards, including the Carroll School Distinguished Teaching Award, the Ray Keyes Distinguished Service Award, and the Heights Momentum Award. Currently, she is the faculty advisor to the Best Buddies Boston College chapter. In her talk, LaCombe emphasized the importance of being human through humility, gratitude, and self-awareness, using examples of people and experiences that made an impact on her own life.

The Last Lecture Series is presented by The Americans for Informed Democracy of BC, a non-partisan group. One lecture is held every semester, and gives a notable professor the opportunity to give a presentation addressing the question, “If you had the chance to give the last lecture of your life, what would you say?” The series takes its root in another series of lectures in which academics are asked to give a “final talk.” The idea was created by Randolph Frederick “Randy” Pausch, who gave his last lecture in 2007 after learning his pancreatic cancer was terminal.

LaCombe, who attended BC and played women’s basketball, described an experience that occurred in her senior year from which she learned about herself. After losing a game, she was blamed by the coaches and benched. Devastated, she had to make a choice about whether to quit the team or try harder.

“I was lucky,” LaCombe said, “I happened to choose the latter of the two options, and headed to the gym.” She credited her coaches with showing her how much more was expected of her.

“Find those people to hold you accountable in life,” LaCombe said.

LaCombe also talked about four people who made significant impacts in her life, noting that it is “remarkable” people who show us who we want to become. Her professor, Elizabeth Strock, taught her humility after she gave up tenure after being the first female professor in finance to receive it.

“The one act of losing the prestige, honor, and money is living proof of humility,” LaCombe said. “She never shows any resentment or jealousy [toward] the women who’ve gotten tenure because of the barrier she broke.”
The other three important people in her life were a coach, Erik Johnson, who taught her humility by accepting responsibility after a defeat; a student in the Class of 2014 who taught her self-awareness by recognizing that he did not want the prestigious career other students sought; and a basketball teammate, Carla, who taught her gratitude through always having an attitude of gratefulness.

“Every time she walked into the room, she was a sparkle of gratitude,” LaCombe said. “She was that teammate who did not have the ability to complain or see the negative.” LaCombe described how Carla remained grateful for what she had, even in the worst situations, such as dealing with her son’s leukemia and her father’s death in a car accident.

At the end of her lecture, LaCombe expressed her own gratitude for being asked to present at a time when she felt she was losing touch with humanity in her busy schedule. LaCombe said that when she was asked to give the lecture, she had to reflect on herself, and remember who she wanted to become.

“It is a gift I will never forget,” LaCombe said of the opportunity.

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