Henry gave Brianna the name of Trevor for a story and commented: “Trevor was with us longer than any other resident. He may also be the brightest of all that I’ve been privileged to know. I think you will find his story interesting.”
Trevor came to Henry’s foundation after his parents were killed in a car wreck. He had no other family. Rather than placing him in foster care, he came to Henry for nurturing.
Early on, Trevor showed an extraordinary science talent. He passed every AP science course available to him, and graduated from college at the age of 20 with a degree in environmental science. By the age of 22, Trevor had a Ph.D.
He began his career with one of the nation’s leading research universities. Early on, his research brilliance became evident. He won a prestigious early career award from the National Science Foundation.
Trevor’s research work was frequently cited by climate scientists. His career was fully established by the age of 30. But he quit.
When Brianna explored the decision to quit, Trevor told her: “Henry would describe my decision as one coming from a crucible moment. I was at a climate science conference. I was the plenary speaker. When I looked out at the audience, I began to wonder what impact I was really having. I was speaking to the converted believers in climate science. What difference was I really making?”
“I decided that I wanted to advance climate science by developing young minds in science. That’s why I began to teach at an inner-city school and developing educational materials that made science come alive. I began to work with my students to develop science activities that show how science can be fun. I’m proud to say that science courses using our materials are often described as pivotal in students pursuing science careers.”
Again, Brianna wondered why Henry saw Trevor as a disappointment. Was it because he didn’t make the fullest use of his talent? Did he regret that Trevor didn’t make a breakthrough discovery to save the planet? She began to think about the interaction between talent and fame. Does talent always need to be widely acclaimed, or is it just as valid for quiet success?
* * *
“The greatest use of one’s talent is to spread it to others.”