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A homeless shelter.
A homeless shelter.

When I heard about Samantha Garvey, a 17-year-old from Brentwood, Long Island, who has been named a semifinalist in the national Intel Science Talent Search, I literally had to pull over to the side of the road. For starters, when good news is deemed newsworthy, I pay heed. But this story in particular moved me deeply.

As I listened to the interview, I heard Ms. Garvey say, “I don’t have a great home life; I don’t have a home. I’m living in a shelter. But I think that motivates me to do the work I do. I want a better life. I want to have a home. I want to show other people that even though you’re going through something bad, there’s a better side to everything.”

Incredible. She is mature beyond her years!

Samantha is an inspiration. She motivates us to take a good look at our own reactions to life’s challenges:

When I heard about Samantha Garvey, who has been named a semifinalist in the national Intel Science Talent Search, I literally had to pull over to the side of the road . . . Do we despair and crumble in the face of difficulty, complaining, “Why me?”

Wrong response.

Do we drag through the day, doing what we have to do, begrudgingly accepting our struggles and endeavoring to succeed in spite of them?

That’s much better, but still not ideal.

Rather than succeeding in spite of our challenges, Samantha inspires us to succeed because of them.

Samantha Garvey in her school’s science lab.
Samantha Garvey in her school’s science lab.

Our difficulties are gifts from G‑d, tailor-made for each of us individually in order to bring out our best juices. We need to try and embrace life’s challenges, and use them to reach greater heights and achieve our true potential (which for most of us is far more than we might ever imagine).

The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, once wrote to a floundering philanthropist, “A temporary setback is just what is needed for the resumption of the advance with greater vigor, as in the case of an athlete having to negotiate a hurdle, when stepping back is the means to a higher leap.”1

Try this train of thought the next time personal challenges come your way. It may be job loss, health problems, a difficult relationship, a miserable childhood, etc. Whatever the case, try to use your difficulties as a springboard to accomplish things you never imagined possible.


See Setbacks Make One Stronger.

What's the latest news? For that information, check your local or national news outlet. In this blog we will discuss the "why?"

Not "why did this event occur?" but "why did I find out about it?" There must be a reason. It must contain a lesson I can use to better myself and my surroundings. Together we will find the lessons...