When Patricia Era Bath was born on November 4, 1942, she could have succumbed to the pressures and stresses associated with growing up in Harlem, New York. With the uncertainty present because of World War II and the challenges for members of Black communities in the 1940′s, one might little expect that a top flight scientist would emerge from their midst. Patricia Bath, however, saw only excitement and opportunity in her future, sentiments instilled by her parents. Her father, Rupert, was well-educated and an eclectic spirit. He was the first Black motorman for the New York City subway system, served as a merchant seaman, traveling abroad and wrote a newspaper column. Her mother Gladys, was the descendant of African slaves and Cherokee Native Americans. She worked as a housewife and domestic, saving money for her children’s education. Rupert was able to tell his daughter stories about his travels around the world, deepening her curiosity about people in other countries and their struggles. Her mother encouraged her to read constantly and broadened Patricia’s interest in science by buying her a chemistry set. With the direction and encouragement offered by her parents, Patricia quickly proved worthy of their efforts.
Bath was enrolled in Charles Evans Hughes High School in New York where she served as the editor of the school’s science paper. In 1959, she was selected from a vast number of students across the country for a summer program at Yeshiva University (New York City) sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Only 16 years old she worked in the field of cancer research under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Bernard and Rabbi Moses D. Tendler. During the program she developed a number of theories about cancer growth and at the end of the summer she offered a mathematical equation that could be used to predict the rate of the growth of a cancer. So impressed with her was Dr. Bernard that he incorporated parts of her