The Bridge Builder
by Will Allen Dromgoole
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
The reason anyone is successful in science is because of the bridges that have been built before us. Bridges built by the scientists and researchers before us allow for our success and to build new bridges to constructed along the road of understanding and design.
I am extremely grateful for the bridges that were built before I began building my bridges. Scientists like Marie Curie, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosalind Crick have laid the path for me and millions of other scientists. However, I am extremely grateful for the bridges that were built for me by those scientists who have had a more direct impact on my scientific career: my advisor, Professor Jin Montclare, and my fellow lab mates.
Approximately a year ago, I was given the opportunity of a life time. Professor Montclare sent out an email asking who would be interested in going to the New York University campus in Abu Dhabi. It was the motivating words of my lab mates that convinced my to consider it, and a quick text message of support from my older brother to convince me to say, “yes”.
When I would tell people the opportunity that was offered to me, they would laud my abilities to have earned this opportunity. In reality, I was just crossing a bridge that was laid before me by Professor Montclare and my mentor in the lab, ChingYao Yang. Of course, I am still extremely grateful to have crossed that bridge.
I have been back from Abu Dhabi exactly one month now. It was an extraordinary experience. Though it was often frustrating, I learned a lot of new science, practiced new techniques, and made some amazing connections. It was not just that I expanded my scientific mind, but also my world and cultural mind.
Opportunity is the amazing gift that science has to offer any one willing to explore the limits of human knowledge. Those opportunities only come from the bridges that were built before you. More often than not, you will know who built the bridges that you have traversed in your scientific life, and though you may not receive an opportunity like mine, always take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
Trust me, you won’t regret it.
-Andrew Olsen, PhD Student, Materials Chemistry, Montclare Lab