This opening chapter of Harold Varmus’ autobiography talks about growing up in a NYC suburb post-WWII, his decision to attend Amherst (over Harvard), his delight in English literature as an undergraduate, and his gradual consideration of medicine as a career at Amherst and graduate school in English literature at Harvard. His interest in science was late, and was inspired by professors he encountered in medical school. I think his life represents the intellectual and personal journey of someone who was open and honest enough with himself to discover his true passion and talent. He later went from Nobel Prize-winning scientist to director of several of the most important scientific organizations in the world- the NIH, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and the NCI. A liberal arts education was only the beginning of that journey.
Amherst has educated 5 Nobel Prize winners. A remarkable number given the small size of each class, the relatively small number of science major graduates, and its entirely undergraduate focus.