By Peter McCue
On Wednesday, April 19 in the University Commons, Sacred Heart University welcomed Robert Paulson as part of the Human Journey Colloquia Series.
During the “Finding a Voice” colloquium, Paulson introduced his memoir, “Not in Kansas Anymore.”
Paulson has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to the ALS Association, ALS is a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.
“He achieved the pinnacle of success as a patent attorney and he continues to work, which is fascinating. ALS has affected Robert’s body in the worst of ways, but it did not affect his brain,” said Catholic Studies and English Professor Cara Kilgallen. “I think this speaks to the strength of the human spirit and his ability to continue to tell his story.”
Kilgallen has known the Paulson family for about 10 years, so she helped organize the event. She was amazed at everything Paulson has achieved in his career having ALS.
During his speech, Paulson said that he was able to write his memoir by using an eye-tracking computer system—which is what he used to communicate with the audience. By using this technology, he is able to access his emails, the internet, stock market portfolios and writing.
“The event was very inspiring and moving and I enjoyed that the Paulson family is looking at the positives rather than giving up. The technology that Robert is using is definitely keeping him alive, besides his strong will,” said junior James Parker. “This is a story that should be repeated and spread.”
Paulson has had ALS for about 21 years and has had many accomplishments during that time. He has been able to keep his position as a patent attorney in New York City, published his memoir, and helped his niece start a business, called Lash Control.
“Robert is an incredibly motivational man who blew me away because of his courage and will to fight ALS,” said junior Patrick Robinson. “The fact that the man has written a book, works as a lawyer, and lives his life under the circumstances was inspiring.”
Paulson’s speech left many audience members inspired with a sense of purpose.
“It’s stunning when you see someone who is disabled and incapable and actually be capable to do things you wouldn’t expect him to do and to be so courageous,” said Assistant Dean of College of Arts and Science and Assistant Director of Academic Advising Michael Bozzone. “Other people would have given up and died of respiratory failure.”
Bozzone thought that Paulson’s story was incredible and important for students and faculty members to listen to. Bozzone believes that Sacred Heart should come up with a way to promote ALS awareness.
“Maybe the university might be able to take action and promote awareness to ALS, and potentially contribute,” said Bozzone. “This is certainly worth our time to consider how we can help as a community.”
Personal donations can be sent to Paulson at RP Homecare: 525 E, 86 St. NY, NY, 10028.
To purchase “Not in Kansas Anymore” or to learn more about creating a business or becoming a lawyer, contact Paulson’s wife, Maureen Paulson, at MePaulson@RCN.com.
“Our family is eager to help students succeed in school and the job world,” said Maureen Paulson.