Growing up in a large military family, I learned the importance of teamwork, strong relationships, independence, and hard work. As an adult, I moved thousands of miles away from my family, striking out into the unknown to pursue my education and career. Throughout my life’s journey thus far, I’ve met countless people and have learned many things that have helped shape me into who I am today.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is to take responsibility for my own life. You can’t wait for someone to hand you something; if you do, you might not like what is being offered. Taking responsibility, understanding the options, and making the best of each situation has made me a stronger person today. Author Deanna Beisser captured it when she said, “Success is being who you are, and feeling proud of yourself for every task and challenge that you face and conquer along the way.”

In life’s classroom, we learn the most from our failures and near-failures. To grow and become successful, we must understand what works and what does not work. I’ve learned from my mistakes and realized that sometimes you just have to get off the bus and go in a different direction. Albert Einstein said it best: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

I’ve learned that good relationships truly matter. The partners I work with are people—not a company, not a letter, not a voice over the phone. What makes me happy and proud is knowing that I have succeeded honestly, positively, and with integrity. I’ve learned to grow through my relationships, and give back by sharing skills and knowledge with the next generation of leaders. Indira Gandhi observed, “I suppose that leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

Career-wise, I dreamed of curing cancer, healing children, and traveling into space, which is not exactly where I have landed. However, with no regrets, I know that I’ve made a positive difference in people’s lives, as a scientist, as a mentor, and as a leader. The Bausch & Lomb vision, perfecting vision and enhancing life, resonates with me and my career in health care. Elbert Hubbard summed it up: “All success consists in this: you are doing something for somebody—benefitting humanity—and the feeling of success comes from the consciousness of this.”