Experts POol

Learning how to leave a legacy

One of my favorite Marquette professors, Dr. Gary Meyer, once told me a story about a backpacking journey he made after college. These travels brought him to Israel to work in a peach tree orchard. There he met a man with a big, bushy beard that struck Dr. Meyer as the image of the prophet Moses. One day, the bearded man pulled Meyer aside to impart life advice. Every person, he said, should do three things before they die:

Plant a tree, write a book, make a baby.

In other words, create. You don’t have to take these metaphors literally — creation can take infinite forms — to see the importance of creativity. Dr. Meyer interpreted the words of this modern Moses to mean he needed to contribute to the next generation, share knowledge and care for the earth. While teaching at Marquette, Meyer shared this perspective in what’s symbolically known as the Last Lecture. The Last Lecture series was inspired by Dr. Randy Pausch’s final lecture, in which Pausch shared everything he wanted his children to know before he died of pancreatic cancer.

“It occurred to me that the important things we do in life are those that somehow live on, things that connect us to the world after we have left it,” Meyer said in his lecture.

I took the advice to heart. For the past few years, I’ve taught a seminar at Marquette called The Art and Science of Creativity. Students from nursing, engineering, business, health sciences, communication, and many other majors take this course. Together we explore the different ways creativity can be applied to different fields like engineering, brain research, writing and even basketball. Creativity changes lives and transforms society. Creative journeys have been traveled countless times before, but there’s no limit to the new trails you can blaze.

Recently, I compiled the lessons I share with my students into a book called The Creative Journey, which includes examples of creativity from comedy, journalism, clasical music, the Olympics, Pixar and many more. Why create? Because as Dr. Meyer taught me, that’s how you build something that matters, that touches lives and that leaves a legacy.


Tim CigelskeTim Cigelske, Comm ’04, Grad ’18, is director of Integrated Content in the Office of Marketing and Communication and adjunct professor in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. He can be reached at





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