Scientists: Life Stories

The heights by men reached and kept,

  were not attained by sudden flight;

but they, while their companions slept,

  were toiling upward through the night.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


What does it mean? The heights by men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight. Men did not just happen upon their discoveries and triumphs. But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward through the night. This shows their fullest determination to finish or start a project, so that they would be doing it when others would rest.

Dr. Hale Williams was the first black to found a hospital that served and gave jobs to African-Americans. Two years after the founding of Provident Hospital, the doctors faced their most difficult patient, a man with a broken heart. Literally. Dr. Williams was told not to do the near-impossible heart-surgery by the other doctors, but full of determination and carefulness, he performed the first successful heart surgery. These traits that are defined in the poem of Longfellow, describing a hardworking and smart person, are shown in Dr. Hale Williams.

Not all celebrated scientists were men. Marie Curie, who was awarded 2 Nobel Prizes, was the discoverer of Radium. Motivated by her parent/teachers, she moved away from Russia to Paris, France where she lived her rewarding life. Like Williams, she was determined and smart, but also modest and excited. She did indeed, as the poem above states, stay up late in the night to complete her well-earned goals.

Alike to Williams and Marie, I am fairly smart and determined to reach my thought-out goals. I emanate humor and kindness, but also frustration and sadness at times. I like to finish the next day’s homework, so I often stay up late to complete it. This pre-work earns me large blocks of free-time, just like Marie staying up to reach goals.

We can see some of the characteristics from the poem inside ourselves. There is always time to improve our unique defining traits.


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