Shirley Ann Jackson

Photo:  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Power: The Equation: Shirley Ann Jackson, PhD
Theoretical physicist, university president

Quick—think of a woman whose name is synonymous with science. For a century, the only option was Marie Curie, but the name on the lips of future generations may well be Shirley Ann Jackson. Her résumé is a catalog of firsts: first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT. First woman and first African-American to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. First African-American woman to lead a national research university (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where applications have doubled in the past four years). We asked Jackson to devise—and explain—a formula for power:

{Preparation10 (Passion + Persistence)}
{Connection10 (Compassion + Courage)}
{Excellence10 (Achievement + Wisdom)}

= Power
{P110 (P2 + P3)} + {C110( C2 + C3)} + {E10 (A + W)} = Power

Follow your passion with persistence, magnified by intense preparation. Use compassion and courage to weave a strong web of connections. Use focused excellence to drive achievements and gain wisdom. It is through the combination of all these things that your power will reveal itself.

The magnitude and reach of your power is up to you.

You must be prepared; you must commit the time, energy, and effort required to achieve. Be persistent. The passion you exhibit for your ideas and ideals and the compassion you show for others will further enhance your power.

Connectivity is key; it is what creates and strengthens your web of opportunity. The more connected you are, and the stronger your connections, the more effective you will be in obtaining and using power to achieve your goals.

All of this requires courage: the courage of your convictions, the courage to get started, the courage to keep going.
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