ACS & You

How an Eminent Scientist Helped Me Trust My Journey

­No matter how many chemistry classes I’ve taken, I continue to find myself struggling with understanding the material. As a result, I’ve had doubts about whether I made the right decision to become a chemist in the pharmaceutical field. After attending the Eminent Scientist Lecture presented by Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi at the 253rd ACS National Meeting in San Francisco, my attitude towards a chemistry career has changed  in a positive way.

Carolyn Bertozzi
Carolyn Bertozzi, Professor, was the eminent scientist lecturer at the 2017 ACS National Meeting in San Francisco.

Bertozzi is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. She is considered a pioneer in bioorthogonal chemistry and has won many distinguished awards. Bertozzi’s talk, “What Life and Research Share in Common: Finding Opportunity in Failure,” which centered on her life and career,  motivated me to stick with my career interest in chemistry. Like many other successful people, Bertozzi conveyed that the road to success is not a smooth one; instead, it is a road with many unexpected twists and turns, and you have to adjust. This really helped me understand that there will be bumps along my own path to success.

I learned that to be successful is to not be afraid of failure. In the classroom, lab, or elsewhere, we must use our failures to find opportunities to reach the next level. And sometimes it is okay to shift the focus from a proposed plan in order to get the best result. “Be open-minded. Crazy ideas are accepted,” said Bertozzi, emphasizing that  new discoveries are accessible through the “crazy ideas” that everyone brings.

The most important part of success is the team that you develop through the journey.  According to Bertozzi, strong communication builds long-lasting teams. As she told her story, I felt encouraged to build strong connections with professors and mentors while I am still an undergraduate student. They are the ones with the most experience in the field. Having that friendly student-teacher relationship is great, but becoming a colleague  can be even more rewarding.

From Bertozzi’s lecture, I realized that I have a long journey ahead of me. But if I work on my goals little-by-little every day, I will find my desired path. The little things I am doing will add up over time, and I’m ready for the journey!

About the Author

Sar Oo
Sar Oo is a chemistry student in the associate of science program at the Craven Community College. In the fall, she will be attending Elizabeth City State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical science.