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Dr. Colwell's Remarks


Dr. Rita R. Colwell
Presidential Awards For Excellence In Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring
The White House

September 10, 1998

Opening Remarks

Good afternoon, and thank you Congressman Brown. It is an immense pleasure to join the President and my colleagues in welcoming you to this, the third Annual Awards Ceremony for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

Our gathering here has special meaning to me personally. I owe much of what I have achieved as a scientist and educator to those individuals who guided me, counseled me, and gave me the confidence necessary to succeed in science and in life.

Of course, I even owe my achievements to those who refused to provide guidance. In fact, one particular department chair told me..."We don't waste fellowships on women." Talk about inspiration! Fortunately, my undergraduate advisor, a geneticist, Professor Alan Burdick, held no such views. Upon hearing of my plight, he offered me a research fellowship in his laboratory where I learned all about the genetics of Drosophila, the famous fruit fly whose genomic sequence is now being determined in laboratories in the U.S.

As a society, we cannot separate our goal of being a leading economic competitor from our duty and responsibility to cultivate a truly diverse science and engineering workforce. That is why the National Science Foundation is so pleased to recognize and support excellence in mentoring.

That is also why it gives me such great pleasure to introduce President Clinton today. Improving education at all levels has been a hallmark of the President's leadership.

Throughout his entire career in public service, Bill Clinton's name has been synonymous with always advancing the cause of education and learning.

Please join me in welcoming the President of the United States.



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