Katalin Karikó: So, in elementary school, there was this—Even seventh grade, I was third in the country—There are 19 counties in Hungary. And then in the eighth grade, I was the third best in the country. There was a whole week competition in Budapest. And it is also interesting because the small town, Kisújszállás, where I grew up, it was 150 kilometers from Budapest. And my father put me on the train, and even I had to babysit another two years younger person who was also from my school, but for different topics, he was also competing in Budapest. And then they are waiting for—We get the letter that they are waiting for you in Budapest, so you put the child, 14 years old and the 12 years old, and then somebody will pick you up. My father learned that I made it when I returned one week later. ‘That okay, I made it.’ And I got third place. Oh, he was so happy. No iPhone, no tele—We didn’t have any telephone. And of course, there also you could see that some other kids maybe were, parents had cars. But that’s fine. It was okay. Yeah, so I love plants, and a lot of questions was at that time about plants, and then I was good at it.

1969: Young Katalin Karikó with elementary school classmates. Even at this early age, she was already competing in biology competitions, excelling in understanding facts about the body, nature, and more. By eighth grade, she ranked third best in the country. Karikó’s parents prioritized a rich education, enabling her to meet various influential adults and peers. “You have your teachers, parents, and friends who shape what kind of person you will become. So it’s important that teachers nurture your curiosity,” Karikó emphasized.