American virologist and medical researcher
When I was in eighth grade, my English teacher assigned the class a book report. The most horrifying part? The report had to be on a biography
. Devoid of ideas, I asked my father for help, and his first recommendation was to read about Jonas Salk. I had never heard the name, but my father seemed enthusiastic, so I checked out Jonas Salk: A Life
by Charlotte Jacobs from the library. The day I opened it, I read the first chapter and did not stop until I had finished the book one week later. I had never known that Jonas Salk was the one who created the first polio vaccine, and that he did so in Pittsburgh itself!
I was engrossed by how brilliant yet simultaneously empathetic Jonas Salk was. He was by no means a perfect person: his colleagues sometimes described him as being cold and egotistical. These flaws, however, were influential lessons in and of themselves. Despite his imperfections, Salk was a passionate scientist who looked upon every challenge with a positive mentality. He was generous, kind, and he dedicated his entire life to improving the lives of others. After creating his polio vaccine, Salk began researching HIV and was able to create a therapeutic HIV vaccine. Even today, scientists are using Salk's research as a base for possible future HIV vaccines. In my opinion, this accomplishment, although not as widely known, is just as significant.
What I admire most about Jonas Salk is his decision to not patent his polio vaccine. Salk's research was funded by millions of charitable donations; therefore, Salk felt he had no right to monetize his research, and thus never filed for a patent for his vaccine. When asked who owned the patent for the polio vaccine in an interview, Salk famously replied, "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"
After I read about Jonas Salk, I realized that being successful is not just about working hard; it is also about being kind and giving back to those who supported you throughout your journey. Most importantly, it is about living life with a positive attitude and an eager mindset, two principles that I strive to exhibit every day. It has been three years since I first discovered him, but Jonas Salk is still the most inspirational scientist I know, and the one I would like to emulate in my future career.