In Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Education

I just watched a very inspiring Daily Show.

Now that’s not a sentence once expects to come across very often (no offense, Jon), but it was an interview with Malala Yousafzai.  Malala, now sixteen, is an outspoken Pakistani activist for education as the most important tool for solving the multitude of problems facing humanity. I’ve got to hand it to her father as well for clearly being the guiding role model in her life. She was shot in the head by the Taliban last year for her efforts, but fortunately for all of us, she made it.

Malala shares this view with me, my parents, and the innumerable other immigrants who came to the United States seeking a better life for themselves and their children thinking that education would enable greater opportunities in life.  This is why now, in the midst of our government’s ridiculous shutdown, I look around at the ailing public school system of this once-great country and feel very sad.

The other day I was astonished to learn that the high school that my friends and I spent four years of our lives, receiving the FREE education that sent us on to good universities and even medical school, had slid down a hole. It was now gang territory, with police cars frequently on patrol. Some families are being forced to make a ridiculous choice – give up their homes to  move to a better public school district, or fork out  the tuition for private school. How did this happen? Continue reading

On Science Serving Society, from a DC Insider

I recently attended a talk by Dr. Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist who was basically in charge of running NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmostpheric Administration) from 2009-2013.  One of the most highly cited ecologists since, well ever, she was part of Obama’s ‘Dream Team’ of science advisors. During those four years, NOAA went from one turbulent challenge to another including the Gulf Oil spill and multiple extreme storm events like hurricane Irene.

Her talk, under the theme of “Science Serving Society” was fascinating in terms of both content and delivery.  There was not a powerpoint in sight, instead she took us to a “field trip” to that strange foreign country known as Washington DC via a series of twelve short stories that illustrated the culture and habits of yonder parts.  I thought I’d share some little nuggets of wisdom here by way of some quotes that stuck:

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”  – Referring to the situation of concerned fishermen anxious about their livelihoods following the disastrous Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. Point: Researchers may harbor a wealth of detailed knowledge, but applying it takes more finesse and the ability to relate to people. Continue reading