When I started out in Stanford University's biology doctoral program, I didn't feel ready. My feeling that I was poorly prepared was corroborated by a committee that told me often how underprepared and unqualified I was. I attempted to argue my case, but the committee held to its position: I was unworthy. Fast forward 2 years: Just before I walked into my qualifying exam, the committee convinced me that I was going to fail. I succeeded, but that didn't change its low opinion of me. Then, at the end of my third year, I was selected to receive a Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence fellowship, which targets students in their final 2 years of graduate school who are interested in pursuing academic careers. The committee now argued that I didn't belong in the company of the other fellows, who, it insisted, were way more accomplished than I was. (Keep reading at Science.)

Top Image: CREDIT: Marc Rosenthal

Fanuel Muindi is a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

10.1126/science.caredit.a1400186