As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.
When 12-year-old Lauren Arrington heard about her sixth-grade science project, she knew she wanted to study lionfish. Growing up in Jupiter, Fla., she saw them in the ocean while snorkeling and fishing with her dad.
Her project showed that the lionfish can survive in nearly fresh water. The results blew away professional ecologists. The invasive species has no predators on the Florida coast, so if they were to migrate upstream in rivers, they could pose a threat to the ecosystem.
Director George A. Romero grew up on classic movie monsters — and he says he never dreamed he'd be responsible for creating the modern zombie that now lurks alongside those monsters. "I never expected it. I really didn't," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "... All I did was I took them out of 'exotica' and I made them the neighbors ... I thought there's nothing scarier than the neighbors!"
If you're a classical guitarist, it may be impossible to resist the pull of one iconic piece: the Concierto de Aranjuez by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Many musicians regard it as the holy grail of guitar repertoire, including a man so big in the classical world he is known by only one name: Milos.
Once upon a time, Jenny Lewis was one of those child actors you might have seen on shows like Growing Pains and Mr. Belvedere. But then she started making music, and in the late '90s that started taking off. Once her band Rilo Kiley started scoring hits, it was hard to go back to sitcoms.