Nat's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Team BNE

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    New York, NY

  • AIRED ON:

    Public Television: Season 9

  • ON DVD:

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

FOUNDATION:

Upholding a cause I believe in

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:

  • Spent his life pursuing a career in literature; once he finally found a job in publishing, he realized he no longer enjoyed reading.
  • When he was 25, his father died suddenly; Nat realized how little control he had over his life.
  • Realizing that he, too, could die at any time was the final impetus he'd needed to quit his job.
  • Went back to school to get another undergraduate degree in engineering; had to start all the way at the bottom, in pre-algebra.
  • Realized that hard science and math were also just languages, and he just had to figure out what each sentence was trying to tell him.
  • Finished his master's degree in engineering at MIT then went to work for the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program.
  • His work took him to Tanzania, where he was exposed to a lack of clean water first-hand.
  • He's made access to clean water his life's work because he sees it as the world's biggest, yet most solvable, problem.

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