From bold businesses to bold leaders, the past year has witnessed some pretty amazing human achievements. Advances in education, scientific scholarship, and individual performances have all contributed to these events, and in each case, a steadfast commitment to excel despite barriers drove these accomplishments. While much of the news reported focuses on the negative, it’s nice to reflect in some positive stories for 2022. With this in mind, here are several stories about human achievements this past year that are certain to inspire.
- Expanding Diversity in Space – On June 4th, Katya Echazarreta became the very first Mexican-born American female in outer space at age 26. Katya was selected for one of six seats reserved in Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin out of 7,000 applicants who applied. The seats were provided by the nonprofit Space for Humanity, which promotes diversity, equity and inclusion for all of humanity. And Echazarreta was an excellent choice given her prior amazing human achievements. Having already graduated from UCLA, she will be attending Jons Hopkins to advance her engineering skills. Plus, she has received a full-time offer after her education is complete from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. These types of human accomplishments are precisely the ones that bring hope for tomorrow. (Revisit Bold’s examination of how the DEI movement has promoted the advancement of women–read this Bold story.)
- The Strongest Work Commitment – Few people stay with one company these days, and many choose to pursue multiple careers. But human accomplishments that show persistence and commitment should be celebrated as well. In this regard, Walter Orthmann should be recognized for his amazing human achievement at a single firm. At age 15 years, he began working at a textile company in Brazil and stayed there for 84 years. Walter celebrated his 100th birthday this year, and he continues to show up for work every day. And if you were wondering, his achievement is indeed a Guinness Book World Record. It’s one record that might stand the test of time.
- Becoming a Living Inspiration – Steve Wilson’s human accomplishment is one that truly evolved through inspiration. After learning from a friend that the friend’s daughter would live because of an anonymous kidney donation, his life changed. Steve decided he too would become a living donor, and this past year, one of his kidneys was harvested. The elective surgery took about two weeks from which to recover, after which, Steve decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. These amazing human achievements weren’t done for vanity or fame. Instead, they were done out of benevolence and as a way to inspire and educate others. Since Steve’s journey, dozens of others have since come forth to volunteer as living kidney donors.
- Breaking the Speed of Ground – Some say records are meant to be broken, but doing so is no easy human accomplishment. Just ask Gary Martin, a high school senior in Pennsylvania. After coming close to breaking a four-minute mile running in official competition, he finally did so this year. Gary was not the first to do so as roughly five other high school students had broken this barrier. But as it turns out, he was one of two people who didn’t use a pacer. And his time was just a “hare” faster. Based on these criteria, Gary’s feat now stands at the top of these amazing human achievements. Likewise, he’s in good company since the majority went on to be Olympians.
- Camping Among the Stars – Among this year’s amazing human achievements is another space-related opportunity. But unlike Blue Origin and SpaceX, this one is much less intimidating and actually more intimate. A company called Space Perspective plans to provide customers a more affordable chance to travel in space. By 2024, they expect to have luxury cabins suspended by large hydrogen-filled balloons. At about a third of the cost of other future space tourism voyages, they hope to make space travel more accessible. This is certainly one of the more exciting human accomplishments of the year. (The next facet of the Space Economy: luxury cabins in orbit. Read more in this Bold story!)
- Overcoming Barriers of Exclusion – In the world today and in the U.S., educational barriers still exist. This is particularly true for some minorities and for girls who often struggle for recognition. But Haley Taylor Schlitz wasn’t having any of it. After her school refused to test her as a gifted student, her parents decided to home school her instead. This led to some amazing human achievements, graduating high school at age 13 and college at age 16. Today, she is the proud recipient of a law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. And she is the youngest African American student at age 19 to graduate from law school. Based on these human accomplishment, it’s safe to say Haley is indeed one of the more gifted students around.
- Taking Corporate Investments Higher – In terms of inspiring individuals, Dolly Parton is certainly one based on her human accomplishments and charitable acts. It now seems that her influence on Dollywood has been rather powerful as a result. This year, Dollywood announced it would be supporting roughly 11,000 employees to pursue additional education in diploma, degree and certificate programs. For most, all expenses including tuition, fees and books would be paid. In hopes for advancing future amazing human achievements, the company is investing in their people. These are the types of investments needed as the world increasingly faces notable talent shortages.
- A New Look at Plastics – In the country today, 46 million tons of plastics are produced each year. Of these, less than 9% gets recycled. The reason for this is that plastics are difficult to break down. But some amazing human achievements at universities may be changing that. At the University of North Carolina, new solvents are being made that quickly, safely, and inexpensively break down plastics. And at MIT, super polymer research offers a new approach to making plastics. Not only is the production of these new plastics minimal. But they are six times stronger than bullet-proof glass and can protect any surface. These are the types of human accomplishments that will alter how plastics are used in the future.