I got into science when I was in high school, because of my interest and ability in mathematics. This was fostered by a very capable and very overworked teacher, who single-handedly taught the final year (A-level) double mathematics, physics and chemistry. My parents encouraged me to become an actuary, but I liked the mathematical basis of physics and chemistry. At the end of high school, I knew that I wanted to make a career in mathematics and physical science.
As an undergraduate, I was lucky to have some excellent and exciting teachers who were themselves high-class researchers in mathematics, although not in physics. At the end of my first degree, I had a wide range of options for graduate work. With my background, aerodynamics was the obvious choice. But I finished up in astrophysics, through the influence of one particular individual with whom I worked for a summer at another university.
In summary, the influence of a small number of individuals at high school, undergraduate level and graduate level contributed very much to keeping me focused on a research career in science. These individuals were all truly dedicated to excellence in scientific education.
Kenneth Freeman is coauthor of In Search of Dark Matter (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)).