Inspiring! That is the best word to describe both the accomplishments and the remarks of our first three Sewickley Academy Science and Technology Hall of Fame inductees. On October 2, 2015, Reunion Weekend kicked off with the induction of Mark E. Shafer, Ph.D. ’75, Carolee T. Bull, Ph.D. ’81, and Beth Willman, Ph.D. ’94 into the Hall of Fame in Rea Auditorium, with Middle and Senior School students in attendance. Mark, an inventor, engineer, and entrepreneur speaking about his work, shared one of his favorite quotes: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried,” highlighting the fact that if one is truly stretching boundaries and venturing into uncharted territory, one will not get things right every time; one will fail. The key is to keep trying and to learn from failure.
This is a critical lesson for students to keep in mind, one that was reinforced by Carolee, a phytobacteriologist, professor, and research scientist, who spoke about discomfort as a sign of learning, of being in a place that is new and different, which forces one to learn, adapt, and change.
Beth, Deputy Director of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), is in California chairing a scientific conference and video-taped remarks. She shared with our students the importance of mentoring others, collaborating, and providing guidance to support those coming along next. This was a theme touched on by Carolee and Mark as well. Beth highlighted how she felt a special obligation to mentor others in the same way that Dr. Susan Zawacky, her chemistry teacher here at the Academy, mentored her.
Each of our inductees spoke about how their experience here at Sewickley Academy prepared them for the paths they chose to take once they graduated. Given the extraordinary achievements for which they were recognized this morning, it seems clear that Sewickley Academy has been doing things right. It is exciting to consider what seeds are being planted today in potential future scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs. With a great education and the commitment to making the most of it, there is no telling what our current students may do.
Sewickley Academy’s Science and Technology Hall of Fame honors alumni who have made significant contributions to the fields of science, medicine, engineering, or technology, as determined by awards, grants, original research, or practical innovation, and as acknowledged by experts in their field. Inductees must have performed significant service to others in the classroom or in the field, work that has greatly enhanced the learning experience for their students or the quality of life for the community benefiting from their efforts.