|Posted on July 23, 2010 at 1:42 PM|
“No individual has any right tocome into the world and go out of it without leaving behind hisdistinct and legitimate reason for having pulled through it.”
- George Washington Carver
Earlier this year I had the privilegeof delivering the keynote address at the George Washington CarverConvocation at Tuskegee University. As I stood in the historicchapel on Tuskegee’s beautiful campus, I reflected on how vital itis to celebrate one of this country’s most creative and inventivescientists, a truly great legend of science. Part of my message thatday was that George Washington Carver, and other early chemistrypioneers, have a story to tell, and it is important that theircontributions be kept alive.
When we think of the great men andwomen of science – all models of achievement and success – andtake a look at their achievements, we understand something about themeaning of opportunity, hard work, sacrifice, determination and thestruggle to achieve, and the importance of their contributions tomaking the lives of others better.
I have often said that to know yourhistory is to know yourself. Knowing our history drives our futureand what we need to do to secure that future; it is knowing that youcan create opportunities for yourself when none are evident. Youbegin to realize that you are responsible for your future and you donot let others define where you should be in your life or career.
There is a world of opportunity outthere for you; the future is yours! Therefore, decisions you makenow are critical to how successful you will be in making lastingcontributions. Do not fear challenges and opportunities, and the riskof failure.
Intoday’s ever-expanding global chemistry enterprise that meansdeveloping skill sets that will make you competitive with your peersin other parts of the world. Thebottom line is: Global skills are important in getting the job,keeping the job, and getting ahead in the job.
In this information age, we live wherelearning takes place beyond the formal classrooms and labs of ourschools and universities. We need to explore new technologies, whichcan support formal education with learning experiences betweensociety, learners, and educators at local, national, and globallevels.
Perhapsit is learning another language, taking part in an internationalresearch project, or becoming familiar with the intricacies of howothers approach science. An ACS working group is already recruitingkey leaders from industry, academia, and government to help identifythe specific skills that our students need to acquire in order to becompetitive in the global chemical enterprise. Once the skills areoutlined, then the objective will be to incorporate appropriatetraining into the university chemistry curricula. This type ofinternational training is becoming ever more critical for ourchemistry graduates. It is not unusual, for example, for a person toearn their doctorate, be hired by an international company, and thenin a few months, be transferred to some other country to work with aninternational, interdisciplinary research group. I believe we have anobligation to our students to prepare them for that sort of scenario.We need to start by asking employers to tell us the skills they lookfor when recruiting new employees. Then we need to give students themeans to acquire those skills and meet the expectations of employers.
Meetingand talking with younger chemists is always a pleasure for me, and Ialways come away with something new from the experience! Yourallegiance, dedication, and camaraderie are remarkable – ACS isenriched because of you. Thank you!