What does success mean to you?
For me, success means not only achieving your goals, but also helping others through it. It means attaining something that you have always wanted, without trampling on anyone and overcoming obstacles that come your way with a clear conscience and good intentions.
Identify one famous personality (whom you deem to be successful)
- background and biography of this person
A famous personality (in the world of science) I deem to be successful is Stephen Hawkins. Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England. At eleven Stephen went to St Albans School, and then on to University College, Oxford, his father's old college. Mathematics not being available in University College, he did Physics instead. He then went on to Cambridge to do research on Cosmology. After gaining his Ph.D. he became first a Research Fellow, and later on a Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. After leaving the Institute of Astronomy in 1973 Stephen came to the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and since 1979 has held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.
- Why is he/she successful?
Stephen Hawking has worked on the basic laws which govern the universe. Together with Roger Penrose, he proved that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. These results indicated it was necessary to unify General Relativity with Quantum Theory, the other great Scientific development of the first half of the 20th Century. One consequence of such a unification that he discovered was that black holes should not be completely black, but should emit radiation and eventually evaporate and disappear. Another speculation is that the universe has no edge or boundary in imaginary time. This would imply that the way the universe began was completely determined by the laws of science.
Stephen Hawking has twelve honorary degrees, was awarded the CBE in 1982, and was made a Companion of Honour in 1989. He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes and is a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Through all this, Stephen Hawking continues to combine family life (he has three children and one grandchild), and his research into theoretical physics together with an extensive programme of travel and public lectures.
- How he/she has inspired you?
Having said all this, many may think that this is the only reason that he inspires me; by breakthrough discoveries in science. However, one thing makes him different, drawing a distinguishable line between him and all. This is because through all the successes he’s had, he has always had an obstacle, but which he did not let stop him from continuing life achieving his dreams. When he was in Cambridge, he was referred to a specialist and was later diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). This incurable disease is the degeneration of the motor cells in the brain and spinal cord, thus leading to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing. Despite knowing this, he did not wallow in self-pity or lose hope. Valuing life more than before, he dreamt at several times that he would sacrifice his life to save others, thinking that after all, if he were going to die anyway, it might as well do some good. But he didn't die. Despite living with a cloud seeming to always hang over his head, he found out that he was actually enjoying life in the present more than before. Though robbed of power of speech during an operation, he lived on and when a computer expert heard of his plight, he was assisted by a computer programme which helped him to communicate much better. This enabled him to either speak what I have written, or save it to disk. He can then print it out, or call it back and speak it sentence by sentence. It is through this that he has written a book, and dozens of scientific papers. He has also given many scientific and popular talks, all of which had been well received.
Stephen Hawkins has had motor neurone disease for practically all his adult life. Yet it has not prevented him from having a happy family, and being successful in his work. His condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case, but it shows that one need not lose hope.
Through him, I realised that one’s disability is not necessarily a wall that prevents one from reaching out for our dreams. Instead, it can strengthen you and drive you to achieve even more, and the only obstacle that can stop you is actually yourself.
Identify one person you know personally (whom you deem to be successful)
-background and biography of this person
This person would have to be my mom. Through all the challenges she’s been through, she never gave up and let it get the better of her.
- Why is he/she successful?
When I was only a year old, my mom was widowed. She went abroad to get us a better life. However, she didn’t let it cause us to drift apart. She instilled in us values and filled in the shoes of both a mother and a father. Even through the toughest of her times, she never stopped supporting not only my siblings and I, but also the rest of my family members, who are needless to say numerous. Though she has been done wrong, not once did she bear grudges and instead has always kept a positive outlook in life.
- How he/she has inspired you?
My mom has inspired me to become a better person and achieve higher. She showed me that challenges don’t weaken you, unless you let them. For her, success isn’t counted by the money you’ve earned, but by the good things you have done for others, without expecting anything in return.
How can this programme help you to get closer to your goals?
I believe that this programme can help instill the right values a student should have to enhance her knowledge and excel in this learning experience. With the right attitude towards new things and discovery, it can help me to adapt to new situations, learn to mix around with new people, and drive me to do better.