Maya Lin, Architect
At the age of 21, Maya was selected in a public design competition to be the architect of the Vietnam War Memorial, beating 1,441 submissions.
Prior to its completion, the plans for the memorial faced sharp criticism in the press because of its non-traditional design.Maya herself was the target of racism and harassment once her identity became public.
"If I won that competition today, I don't think I could have weathered the storm. Back then, there was nothing to weather… What fascinates me is how I was never afraid that it wouldn't work. Whereas I think now, absolutely, you'd be terrified. You'd be thinking, 'Oh my God, what if they're right and I'm wrong?' You don't have that when you're that age. I am very focused. And some would say extremely stubborn. And you kinda know when you've hit it, you know when it's right.”
"I just knew. If we all think back to when we're that young, that's one of the things we really have going for us. You're sure of your ideals. You're sure of your beliefs."
PBS and edited for brevity, photograph via Joan Crane