The Fall 2019 WCC luncheon took place at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront with over hundred people in attendance. The keynote headliner for the luncheon was Dr. Frances Arnold, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The room buzzed with excitement as attendees filed in to find their seats from the moment the doors were open and through the meal time in anticipation of hearing Dr. Arnold speak. Before her speech, the 2018 WCC Overcoming Challenges Award Recipient – Kathleen Lugo was recognized and her speech was the prelude to the keynote speaker. Lugo’s speech was incredibly moving as she walked us through some of the challenges she has faced on her journey to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Florida International University. She successfully juggled her studies, extracurricular activities, and leadership roles while being her mum’s aide after she was diagnosed with cancer. She persevered through it all and received several accolades and awards including being selected as an ACS Scholar, which propelled her to the finish line financially in addition to the mentorship.
Dr. Arnold followed with her talk titled “One Step at a Time: Innovation, Evolution and Adaptation”. She started by sharing some pictures from celebrations of when she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2018) and the fanfare that goes along with receiving the prestigious award. A quick background of her life and how she made her way to be the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was more than inspiring. Her focus of her speech was to highlight how she has adapted through defining stages of her life and balancing her career and family. She shared her struggles at work being a minority, as a mum and being diagnosed with breast cancer, connecting with Lugo’s story and struggles also. Despite these obstacles, she kept at it and is still championing her work and others following in her footsteps. Ultimately the message she wanted us to leave with was that despite our goals in our career and in life, we should aim to nurture and treasure our relationships especially with our family. They are the ones that matter the most in the end. Overall, she was pleasant, plainspoken and touched the hearts of those that heard her on this occasion. She generously took several pictures with students and others in attendance afterwards.