December 3 – Happy Birthday Sarah Brownell Foos

SBrownell2Sarah Brownell Foos is a hero. This very intelligent young lady was Valedictorian of her 1993 Amsterdam High School class, earned her bachelors degree in mechanical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology, and a masters degree in environmental engineering from U California at Berkley. Most thirty-year-olds with this kind of academic resume are working as professional engineers for large firms, pulling down six figure salaries, and being constantly recruited by corporate headhunters who are offering them even more lucrative career opportunities. Fortunately for some of the world’s poorest people, making money is not what motivates Sarah.

Instead, the thing Sarah has always enjoyed doing most has been helping people in need help themselves.  Always an excellent student with natural ability in science and math, Sarah almost didn’t pursue engineering in college because she thought it would prevent her from a career devoted to service to others.

Fortunately, she came across a quote attributed to Herbert Hoover, the former US President who was also an engineer and a truly great humanitarian. “To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope.” ”When I saw those words,” Sarah explained, I knew I could do both.”

She got her first chance during the summer of her sophomore year at RIT, when she traveled to Haiti with a group of volunteers from Rochester’s St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality, to install solar panels at a health clinic in the Haitian village of Borgne…

You can read the rest of my story about this native Amsterdam humanitarian in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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