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My EUCYS Experience – Jakub Nagrodzki



We all have ambitions and dreams. For me, their embodiment has always been the convergence of helping others, medical sciences and a challenge. At this point in life, I hope I am following the path leading to these aims, despite many crossroads where I had to make important decisions. At each and every one of them the Polish Children’s Fund was the motor of my personal development, setting me on the right track. From the age of fifteen, when the Polish Children’s Fund became my window for the grand science beyond the gray school walls, its impact on my life nothing but grew.

It was a particularly gloomy February when, thanks to the Polish Children’s Fund, I found myself wandering into a biochemical laboratory in the Division of Biophysics at the University of Warsaw. I was lucky enough to become part of a group invited for chemical workshops, during which, in a very short time, mRNA caps changed from an obscure scientific topic to something absolutely fascinating. And then everything happened in the blink of an eye – internship at the lab, my own research on the synthesis of a particular molecule, the creation of my report, the Polish qualifier round of the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, the award in Warsaw…

It was a sunny day in September, a year and a half after my first visit to the lab, when, thanks to the Polish Children’s Fund, I found myself wandering off a plane in Vienna with a poster outlining my work tucked under one arm, ready to represent Poland in Bratislava, Slovakia, at the European finals of EUCYS. I could only guess what these 4 days in Bratislava would be like.

Now I know that they were the fulfilment of a young scientist’s dream: dozens of projects from everywhere around Europe, inspiring research, fascinating people. The stress of numerous judging sessions was alleviated by friendly chats, not only for geeks, and not only about the contesting works, which, I have to admit, were excellent indeed – from extinct languages, through robots and aircraft windscreens, to the secrets of chocolate and curing cancer. And after all this excitement – discover the nightlife in Bratislava! Only to return to our posters the next morning and face some more judging…

It felt like a dream, like a beautiful dream. Its climax was, of course, the award ceremony at the Slovak National Theatre, which took our breaths away and will live in our memories for a very long time. The awakening did not come until after the ceremony, or might not have come yet at all, as my whole adventure with the Polish Children’s Fund seems surreally fantastic.

The Polish Children’s Fund has been the hero behind the scenes of my greatest successes to date. Without this organisation I would not stand in the position I stand in now, as its initiatives paved the way for me to choose paths on the road of my personal development which remain unavailable for most teenagers. The Polish Children’s Fund is the founder – literal, and, above all, metaphorical – of my success.

Jakub Nagrodzki, 1st Prize Winner at EUCYS 2012 in Slovakia