Thursday, June 02, 2011

RIP Rosalyn Yalow, a populist heroine in the populist tradition of Our Lady of Vilnius

Nobel laureate Rosalyn Yalow lived not far from me before I, like her a Bronx native, moved away from my home borough. She lived there for the remainder of her life, which ended on Monday, May 31, 2011.

As recently as 2005, Larry Summers, then president of Harvard University, publicly expressed the sentiment that women were inherently unsuited for careers in math and science. Imagine the climate that Mrs. Yalow encountered when she embarked upon her career armed with her Hunter College physics degree in 1941.

Despite being a woman in a man's world, she put her NYC public school education to work carving out a distinguished career in science, making a great contribution to the field of diagnostic medicine and winning a Nobel prize.

Since 1905, when Our Lady of Vilnius was founded, it has been the home of countless people of modest beginnings and modest lives who took their abilities and the resources available to them and made the most of their natural gifts for the betterment of this world. Save Our Lady of Vilnius Committee member Dalia Bulgaris comes immediately to mind. A student of chemistry when this was an uncommon vocation for women, Dalia taught this subject for many years at Stuyvesant High School, perhaps helping to form the Rosalyn Yalows of the future.

So today I remember Rosalyn and Dalia, thank God for them and pray that their souls and the souls of all who followed a similar path reside with Him on this Ascension Thursday.

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