The above image is Stephen's great grandfather and researcher, Fritz Kahn.
Dear Lumiere Mentors & Community,
Why do I or any of our mentors work on Lumiere? The reason is, quite simply, because the opportunity to do research and work with mentors has had a lasting impact on our lives.
Personally, doing research and higher education has shaped my family’s life for generations. My grandfather, who fled Germany with his family as a Holocaust survivor, never had the opportunity to study as deeply or with as much focus as his father, a famous science writer in Berlin. After immigrating to the United States, my grandfather moved between working-class jobs, finally settling in Hawaii as a plantation worker. My father, as a result, grew up poor but with a sense that education could be a ticket out of poverty and into a different set of life opportunities.
When my dad was in college, and barely over the age of 20, he found out that his father passed away suddenly. Around the same time, he began to work part-time in a psych lab. Growing up, my father had been a class clown, but with the passing of his father, he threw himself into his studies and his work at the psych lab. After seven years, he graduated from university and went on to do a PhD.
My life growing up was starkly different from that of my father or grandfather. However, the role of research remained prominent. My dad, who went on to become a professor, taught me from a young age that curiosity should be celebrated and questions should be asked. When I entered college at Harvard, I also found another mentor, David Garvin, an HBS professor who taught me not only how organizations worked, but also how mentorships can shape our futures. David and my father, Daniel, are the reasons I chose to pursue a PhD and am now a student at HBS.
Though our stories may be different, for our mentors and prospective mentors, the message I’ve found is quite similar. Research and mentorship, which go hand-in-hand, have shaped our lives. We work with Lumiere to pay-it-forward and to help talented students have the opportunities that shaped our lives.
Never has this mission and opportunity been more important. COVID-19 has shown us that location and proximity to century-old universities should not be the main determinant of whether students have access to research or mentorship opportunities. Meanwhile, the crisis has shown us that critical reasoning, determination, and innovative thinking – all traits trained while doing research – are crucial to success in this century. The time is now to create research-learning opportunities – and to share it with talented students around the world.
So for our mentors who have joined us, we thank and welcome you into our family. For those mentors considering applying, we encourage you to do so. Our students, whom we call Lumiere Research Scholars, are talented, driven, and hungry for the opportunities to do research with world-class experts. We are proud of them, and we are proud of the remarkable research mentor community we’ve created.