Many years after receiving my graduate degree, I returned to the State University of New York at Binghamton as a faculty member. One day in a crowded elevator, someone remarked on its inefficiency. I said the elevators had not changed in the 20 years since I began there as a student.

When the door finally opened, I felt a compassionate pat on my back, and turned to see an elderly nun smiling at me. "You'll get that degree, dear," she whispered. "Perseverance is a virtue."