Nat's Open Road

NAT PAYNTER

Director of Water Programs
charity:water

“From an early age, we’re told ‘You’re either humanities or you’re hard sciences.’ And that’s not true. You can do both.”

INTERESTS:

Non-Profit Organizations Science

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Family Societal Pressures Transitions Pressure Dedication Courage Confidence Honesty Culture Opportunity Acceptance Fulfillment Success

TAGS:

books, bravery, change, death, engineering, epiphany, going back to school, grad school, growing, humanities, loss, math, publishing, reading, realization, starting over, time, water, World Bank, world problems

BIOGRAPHY:

Conventional wisdom would have us believe that math majors can’t write poetry and English majors can barely calculate a tip. But Nat Paynter—a former English major—disproved that pigeon-holing stereotype when he quit his job in publishing to play with numbers as an Engineer. So how did a Chaucer-studying liberal arts major become the guy who does calculations in the water sector? It started with figuring out what made him happy. He knew something wasn’t right at his former job when he “didn’t want to go to sleep anymore because he knew he’d have to wake up.” His father’s sudden death was the final impetus he needed to start living a life of meaning: “I realized that we can die at any time, so there’s no time to waste being unhappy.” Determined not to squander any more precious minutes on Earth, Nat threw himself into his love for Engineering and sought out a Ph.D. He re-did his undergraduate work-- this time in math--starting at pre-algebra, and working all the way up to advanced calculus. The determination paid off. Now at charity:water, Nat uses his English AND math skills to bring clean water to millions of people. His takeaway? “You have no control of the big things in life, so go and be happy!”

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