Thursday, April 2, 2009

Next Stop, Nobel Prize

For a bit of change, today's post is a personal one. Sometimes one just has to pay tribute to a very cool person.

I have quite an accomplished niece I am very proud of. At just 25, she is a pianist, violinist, and fluent in Spanish. She excelled in college at Tulane University in New Orleans, lived through Hurricane Katrina, and worked at a top biotech company researching cures for some of our most difficult diseases. She has already traveled extensively for her young age. She won the National Science Fellowship (NSF) to work toward her Master's and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and is working in a laboratory for neuroengineering isolating brain tumors. She could be conceited or have a flat personality, she does not. In fact she is one of the sweetest and most down to earth people you could ever meet. She remains humble, thoughtful, and caring.

Yesterday, in the middle of a hectic work day, I was informed she had won the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. She will go to Switzerland this fall and study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne for ten months. To say she is thrilled is an understatement.

So, here's to you, Jenny. There are a lot of very smart people in our family, but you take the cake, kiddo. You have worked hard on top of being brilliant; you have a heart of gold, and I KNOW you are going to do something great for your fellow human beings. That has always been important to you. I remember when you started a Girl Scout troop in the poorest area of New Orleans when you were only eighteen so those girls could have a chance. And I've seen you over the years do many other things to help out. I won't be surprised when one day you do something remarkable, like cure cancer, because everything you've done continues to be more and more remarkable. Your dedication and focus amazes me. Your compassion and caring for people impresses me.

And, for the record, nothing you ever achieve will surprise me. You will be able to pick and choose where you want to be - and that goal to perhaps be a professor someday at your beloved Columbia University in New York City - I suspect they will probably approach you. Remember this too:

"The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious awards programs worldwide, operating in 144 countries and with 51 commissions. More Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes than those of any other academic program, including two in 2002."

So, keep pumping, but enjoy Switzerland, enjoy your research, enjoy the fact that you can and will make a difference in the world. It might just be that the next stop for you is the Nobel Prize. But, there is one thing I am quite sure of. You will most definitely continue to be one of the good ones - one that will make a real, positive impact on mankind.

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