We live in a discouraging world. How many kids dream of goals like paleontology and never can because of socioeconomic factors? It’s especially hard with the racial segregation based on socioeconomic barriers that still exists in the United States. It’s hard enough to get a paleontology career as it is thanks to the money and time and lack of positions and pay. Our society doesn’t reward science that doesn’t provide more money for other people. It’s especially hard for racial minorities-job barriers and discrimination have always been a major barrier to life goals.
So it’s nice to find some hope somewhere, and to find heroes. An unsung hero in all senses of the word was Louis Rayfield Purnell. He was the son of a railcar painter in Maryland, but managed to make it to the Smithsonian. How? A little bit a luck, but with a lot of perseverance, talent, ingenuity, and a wide skill set.