After participating in a science competition for four years, it was my
junior year of high school. The research project I came up with couldn't
be done at my school because of certain restrictions and I needed to
work at the college level. I'd nearly decided not to do the science
competition that year as I'd been discouraged by my old advisor (he told
me my idea was "shitty") and couldn't find a new one. I remember laying
on the floor of my room with the phone number of a professor I'd
randomly found online who worked at a small college nearby. I finally
took a deep breath and dialed his number. I introduced myself as, "you
don't know me, but..." and he agreed to help. However, when I went in to
meet with him his colleague discouraged him from helping me and
discouraged me from completing the project - she said it would be too
difficult to complete.
However, the professor helped me anyway - staying long hours with me in
the lab and even letting me come to his house to go over last minute
things the night before the competition.
I ended up winning first place and the Excellence Award in Microbiology,
and at the state competiton I was chosen as the female delegate to
advance onto an (all expenses paid) trip to nationals.
I'm now a student at MIT - and I know I would not be here had it not
been for the confused professor who randomly agreed to help me when I
called him that evening even though he didn't even know my name.