Alumnus gives back to Notre Dame community through advice
Adrianna Fazio | Monday, January 28, 2019
Dr. Paul McCauley, a 1966 graduate of the University, has found a lifelong solace in giving his time and advice to members of the Notre Dame community.
“I entered ND in 1962,” McCauley said. “John Kennedy was President. I loved Mathematics. I planned to be a part of Kennedy’s space program and send men and women to the moon, Mars and beyond.”
The second of seven children, McCauley continuously saw his father, a general practitioner, spend long hours working to support his family. At the time, McCauley said he thought medicine was, “one crazy, stupid way to make a living.”
But, regardless of the arduous hours and his aspirations to send people to the moon, McCauley said he became aware that his father was never unhappy with his life or his career.
“Witnessing the contentment and satisfaction my father displayed despite his long hours, interrupted nights and weekends … made me consider a career in medicine,” McCauley said.
McCauley eventually graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1970, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. During his career, he continuously gave back. McCauley said he helped to start an annual memorial service for parents who had lost a child at, or soon after, birth.
McCauley’s experience working with parents who had lost children became closely entwined with his own life. He and his wife Kathleen lost their daughter Erin Marie McCauley Tervo on Sept. 6, 2015, to Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD).
Erin, who graduated from the Mendoza College of Business in 1993, was married with three daughters who were ages 7, 9 and 11 at the time of her death.
“It is three years this past September [since we lost Erin],” McCauley said. “As a physician, you go back and forth between the human part of you and the doctor part of you,” he added, citing the reactionary pain of wishing he had been able to prevent his daughter’s health conflict.
After losing Erin, McCauley said he was able to channel his grief, faith and profession into helping others deal with loss.
Just twelve days after Erin’s funeral, McCauley returned to Notre Dame to assist with a medical ethics conference and speak with three separate groups of students about death, dying, coping and grieving.
“I thought, what better person to teach than someone who is experiencing acute grief,” he said.
For eight years, until last year, McCauley has returned to campus, both to help with the same medical conference, and to continue his daughter Erin’s tradition of taking her three daughters to a football game each fall. Additionally, McCauley said he has worked as a mentor for many Notre Dame graduates whom he has met over the years, using his experiences to guide students towards living meaningful lives.
McCauley said he hopes students learn to look for valuable life experiences and relationships.
“Choose something to do with your life that you have a passion for, even if it is difficult,” he said. “Don’t just do something that is a job because you’re wasting the rest of your life. You want to be able to look back and not just have money in the bank account, but knowing you touched people’s lives.”