Academy of Achievement Logo
Home
Achiever Gallery
Keys to Success
 Passion
 Vision
 Preparation
 Courage
   + [ Perseverance ]
 Integrity
 The American Dream
Achievement Podcasts
About the Academy
For Teachers

Search the site

Academy Careers

 
 
Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Glenn Seaborg

Discoverer of Plutonium

My father was not able to find employment on any regular basis after the Depression came, and we just had a hard time. My mother had to work. I found jobs of all kinds right from the beginning and very early at UCLA found a position as a laboratory assistant -- I remember at fifty cents an hour and that was even in the middle of my sophomore year. All the way through I earned my money to pay for the -- there was no tuition, but there were incidental fees -- laboratory fees and to buy the books and pay for the transportation.
View Interview with Glenn Seaborg
View Biography of Glenn Seaborg
View Profile of Glenn Seaborg
View Photo Gallery of Glenn Seaborg



John Sexton

Education & Law

John Sexton: Well, I think that my father's alcoholism is an important part of my personality. First, as a practical matter, I don't drink at all. And I've only had two drinks in my life, and both of them were over 40 years ago and more or less because it was a big thing among my friends to try to get me to drink. And I understand about myself that I have an alcoholic's personality. I say to the students at NYU that I am an alcoholic, because I tend not to do things in moderation. It's just that my alcoholism is ice cream. And I can put on many pounds very quickly, because I won't eat a spoonful, believe me -- or even a dish-ful. So I can feel my dad's personality in that.
View Interview with John Sexton
View Biography of John Sexton
View Profile of John Sexton
View Photo Gallery of John Sexton



John Sexton

Education & Law

In the '50s, when I was in high school, we really were very poor, because of my dad's alcoholism and his illnesses -- which weren't insured. And my mother started teaching elementary school, and my sister worked in a butcher store -- more or less to get the income, and the entrails. We ate a lot of the leftovers of animals. I don't recognize liver as a delicacy. It was kind of the high end of what we got in the meat department -- except when my father won at the track. Then we would get steak.
View Interview with John Sexton
View Biography of John Sexton
View Profile of John Sexton
View Photo Gallery of John Sexton



John Sexton

Education & Law

Yes. In 1972 I turned 30, and I was the single parent of a wonderful three-year-old boy, and a group of my friends got me together and said, "Look," you know, "You've always wanted to go to law school. Twelve years with the girls is enough. You'd better do it." So I applied to five law schools -- four in New York, including NYU. And I applied to Harvard because a friend of mine -- now he's a very, very famous law professor, but then he was just a recently-tenured member of the Harvard Law School faculty, and we were buddies. His name is Larry Tribe -- and I thought that gave me kind of an edge up; Larry would write a letter for me. And I was denied at all five schools, because -- they were right to deny me; 2.1 grade point average, Ph.D. in religion. I'm leaving a tenured position. Why am I abandoning my discipline? This preposterous story about the girls that no one could understand on paper. So, Larry and this group of friends -- there's a group -- I'm blessed with great friends that go back over 40 years. Larry's one of them. A man named Bob Schrumm is one of them. A man named Lee Heubner who was, at that point, I think still in the Nixon White House with Buchanan and Safire heading the speech-writing team. And the three of them went in to the Harvard Admissions Committee and said, "You've got to reconsider this." And a woman named Molly Garrity called me. She died in 1999, but I called her every year to thank her, because it changed my life -- and she said, "You've been accepted on reconsideration." And I said to her, "I can't come." And she said, "What do you mean you can't come?" And I said, "Well, if I'm going to go to Harvard Law School," I said -- you know when I was growing up, my dad, whenever I got sassy, he would say, "What, you gonna be a Harvard lawyer?" You know, it was kind of an epithet. I didn't don't know what it meant. But here I was, about to go -- I'd done my doctoral dissertation in religion on Charles Eliot, who had been President of Harvard for 40 years. I said, "If I'm going to do this," I said, "I can't do this commuting from New York. And that means, since I won't leave the girls -- now, I cannot accept new kids in the program, but some of the kids have given me a commitment, I've given them a commitment, are just becoming sophomores. So, would you consider taking me three years from now?" And she said, "I now believe what you wrote about the girls." She said, "You're the first person accepted for the class of 1975" -- entering class of '75. And I got up there in '75, and I met my wife in Harvard Law School, and it took me two months to persuade her to marry me. So, it was a very good kind of coming together of everything.
View Interview with John Sexton
View Biography of John Sexton
View Profile of John Sexton
View Photo Gallery of John Sexton



John Sexton

Education & Law

John Sexton: No, I'm actually not an easy reader. Whether I'm dyslexic, or -- I mean, I've never been diagnosed. I read at one speed. So, I read exegetically -- I read very well, slowly, the meaning of text -- which is terrific for my two disciplines -- remember, I have a Ph.D. in religion, and I have a law degree. So, if you're studying a scriptural text or a legal text, this very slow but totally comprehending style of reading is exactly the right thing. And I'm capable of doing that very well. On the other hand, when one tries to read a novel -- you know, my wife reads a novel every day -- it can take me a month to read a novel. And I really have to force myself to that joy. My formative years in teaching were spent with high school students in debate. And I do what I call "debate reading." I can read a book in an hour -- and really get it -- if I'm reading in concentric circles. The first book I read, I'll read very slowly. The second book, a little more quickly. By the time I get to the fourth or fifth book on the same topic, I can read extremely quickly, with almost complete comprehension. So when I do that kind of vertical reading, I can read very quickly. But I'm embarrassingly unfamiliar with a set of canonical books that people would assume that I've read.
View Interview with John Sexton
View Biography of John Sexton
View Profile of John Sexton
View Photo Gallery of John Sexton



Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

I started to write. It took me a long, long, long time. I had some problems. I had an auto accident. I lost a year over that. I lost a year over something else, but it basically took me -- if you added it up -- it took me 13 years of research and writing to get the book done. A Bright Shining Lie, that is, John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. But I'm glad I did it, because I wanted to leave a book behind. I wanted to record this experience for those who had been there, for those who had fought there, for the general public at large, and for the generations to come, and also, I guess for myself. I wanted to get it down and convey it, because it had been the experience of my life for ten years.
View Interview with Neil Sheehan
View Biography of Neil Sheehan
View Profile of Neil Sheehan
View Photo Gallery of Neil Sheehan



Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

Neil Sheehan: I almost gave up at one point because I ran out of money, and Susan couldn't support the family by herself. We had two daughters going to private school. It was 1979, and I had enough of the book done so that I knew I had solved my problems. I had a lot to write, but I had solved my problems. I knew where this thing was going, and that I had a vision of the book now, and it was working, my vision, but I was going to have to stop to support the family, go back to reporting.
View Interview with Neil Sheehan
View Biography of Neil Sheehan
View Profile of Neil Sheehan
View Photo Gallery of Neil Sheehan



Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

The current Librarian of Congress, James Billington, was then head of the Woodrow Wilson (International Center) for Scholars, and he got me a fellowship for one year, which was a good fellowship then. It was the equivalent of a salary, and that year tided me over, and then we had another slim year, and then I had about two-thirds of the manuscript. I was able to go back to Random House and say, "Okay. Here is what you are going to get if you give me some money, enough money to finish this thing," and they read it and they said okay. Now they could see what they were going to get, because we had to renegotiate the advance, and they gave me a bit of money. And then I ran out of money again, because it went on for some more years longer, and William Shawn, who was head of The New Yorker, was going to take 125,000 words. He gave me $40,000 advance, and so I was able to keep the family going. I finally finished it in 1987. We published in '88. I finished it. I basically finished the manuscript in '86, and then it took me a year to cut. It was too long, much too long. It was 475,000 words, and my editor and I had agreed that 375,000 was the limit. So I got a computer, learned how to use a word processor, and I took 100,000 words out of the manuscript with the help of my editor, Robert Loomis.
View Interview with Neil Sheehan
View Biography of Neil Sheehan
View Profile of Neil Sheehan
View Photo Gallery of Neil Sheehan



Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

I wanted to write a definitive book on the war. I wanted it to be definitive. I wanted it to encompass not just the American side, but also the Vietnamese, who they were, what had happened. I wanted it to be definitive. I hoped it would be widely read. I couldn't have known the reception it would receive, no, but I was putting everything I had into it. I mean everything I had learned, all my skills that I had built up over the years were going into that book. It was exhausting. I thought I'd never write another book afterwards, because it was exhausting. I got so tired by the end. You'd get up in the morning -- and you'd be exhausted -- to start the day. You'd be so nervous, my hands would shake until I got the manuscript going again, my next segment, the segment I was working on. You'd get nervous. I had terrible stomach cramps for a long period of time from nerves of the whole thing, because your nerves get to you. You think, "When is this going to be done?" You see the end, but to get there! You know the path. What I should have learned was you don't look at the top of the mountain, just look at the step in front of you, but it's hard to do that. You keep seeing the top of the mountain. Jesus! Mother of God, it's a long way away! I'm glad now I did it. It took up all my middle years. I started it in 1972, and I published it in 1988, and my middle years all went into it, but I am glad I put them into it.
View Interview with Neil Sheehan
View Biography of Neil Sheehan
View Profile of Neil Sheehan
View Photo Gallery of Neil Sheehan



Browse Perseverance quotes by achiever last name

Previous Page

          

Next Page