Who says the young are impatient? 

April 30, 2014

Who says2

A medical science pioneer at 15. An award-winning civil rights activist at 16. A chef at 12. A violin soloist at 6. A world-record-holding runner at 15. 

What enables remarkable achievements at such tender ages? Innate ability, sure. Supportive parents and mentors, of course.

But don’t underestimate a teen’s tolerance for doing the same thing over and over. That certainly came through during Why Wait? Young People Blazing Trails at the Milken Institute Global Conference.

Ade Williams, 16, practices her violin up to eight hours a day when she’s not touring. Marathon runner Winter Vinecki logs more miles than she can count. And when other kids are at the movies, Mary-Patricia Hector is happy to keep working on her brainchild, the Think Twice Campaign to reduce gun violence.

“When I got into it, I didn’t realize cooking is an art but also incredibly hard work,” said Flynn McGarry, who started a supper club in Los Angeles three years ago, when he was just 12. “You can create this beautiful, thoughtful dish, and then you also have to think, ‘How can I make 800 of those?’ You have to love it so much that you deal with the hours and hours of repetitive tasks that you have to do.”

For student scientist and researcher Jack Andraka, the magic number was 8,000. That’s how many proteins he studied just on his summer break. “I’d go to the lab every day. When I was in school I’d still go to the lab after school. Sometimes I’d sleep over there on this thin mattress of scientific journals.” But it was more than worth it. in the end he developed a paper sensor that detects protein markers indicating pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer. He was 15, and his invention won the Gordon E. Moore Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award.

 So what do these hypermotivated young people do when they’re not practicing or training, cooking or running experiments in labs?

Free time? Mary-Pat Hector asked. “I don’t want free time.”