Reply Thu 26 Dec, 2013 09:22 pm
Hi. I was recently convicted of academic dishonesty and dismissed from the university. However, the dean has given me a chance to present my case.

I do not wish to contest the charges. I made a mistake. I wish to apologize and humbly request for a second chance. Please read my letter and give me your feedback.

Thank you so much.

Dear ********

I, ********, am writing this letter to appeal my dismissal from the physician assistant program at ******** University. I was extremely distressed when I received a call from the program director, ********, on ******** informing me of the academic committee’s recommendation. I would like to urge you to reconsider this recommendation for the following reasons.

I admit I have made a grave mistake. And I understand the importance of the violated policies in maintaining a high standard of education. I assure you that my actions were not conscientious or maliciously motivated; they resulted from a momentary lapse in my judgment. I had a really rough time last semester and, while I do not blame anyone but myself, I am so grateful to you for giving me a chance to explain my situation.

While getting into the highly competitive ******** University Physician Assistant program was a dream come true for me, my conservative Hindu family had other plans. My marriage was decided to take place immediately upon graduation from *******; I knew how difficult it would be to pursue further education after this arrangement. I begged and pleaded to delay the ceremony with the promise that, when I completed the program, I will go through it without any hesitation. My parents reluctantly approved; but it was still a daily struggle to ask for tuition payments or time to study. Despite these issues, I remained persistently focused and managed to do extremely well during my 21 months here at ******** University. I looked forward to nothing else except graduating within the next 6 months and embarking on a dedicated career towards the well being of my patients.

As unfortunate circumstance would have it, however, everything was destroyed about five months ago – my engagement broke off. The other family slandered my reputation, questioned my parent’s upbringing and severely disgraced my family in front of the entire community. I was to immediately return to India and marry a new suitor whom I had never even seen. Attending rotations was a long shot; I had to put up a ridiculous fight over the past months to just be allowed to stay in the country. I exhausted every possible option: I was rejected for personal loans, my INS file was entirely under my mom’s name, and I was simply unable to physically travel to my rotation site.

Looking back now, I realize that I never pursued an option that was probably the most evident of all – to contact the school. I wanted to share what I was going through; I wanted to seek help. But personal shame and the unbearable fear of dismissal rendered by reasoning useless. I kept managing to do as much as I could (passing exams, submitting EOR papers, working on my capstone project, etc.), but I failed at the most obvious. In midst of this stress, I ended up missing 20 days over two months. Further, in a confused, delusional, momentous and extremely stupid decision, I submitted incorrect evaluations rather than confronting my preceptors about the problem. Even as a fully conscious grown adult, I was paralyzed by my silence. I assure you: if there is one thing I have learned, it is that I will never let this happen again.

On ********, ******** briefly called me to schedule a meeting the next day. No further information was provided. Confused and unprepared, I met with ********, ******** and ******** who mentioned the student handbook that stated: “3 unexcused absences may result in dismissal from the program.” I panicked. The meeting resulted in sanctions that I make up the missing hours, sustain 2 unexcused absences on my record and be kept under academic probation.

I met with my site coordinator, ********, and, for the very first time, shared the problems I had been going through. He was very understanding and generously gave me a chance to complete the rotation, which I did successfully on ********. The academic committee made no further contact with me about the absences or evaluations. On ********, ******** responded to my email with a brief call informing me that I had been dismissed from the program! I was lost, with neither a full understanding of the charges nor an opportunity to present my situation.

I recognize the allegations are extremely serious and I am by no means arguing to be completely let off. Quite the contrary, I acknowledge the necessity of a structured path that incorporates penalization as well as ensuring future adherence to all policies. As you know, the current verdict of dismissal will end my career and, most likely, my chance at an independent life. Instead, in accordance with guidance provided by the ******** University Student Handbook (Page 5 of ********), I request to propose an alternate plan that will help me learn from my mistakes, progress towards my passion as a physician assistant, and develop my life into a valuable exemplar for our community and our nation.

Step 1: Considering the severity of my mistake, I could receive a failing grade and be required to repeat the rotation in question. This would, inevitably, also delay my graduation.

Step 2: To ensure no further inconsistencies take place here at ******** University, I could be kept on academic probation until graduation and do all my rotations locally.

Step 3: To better prepare for future situations, I could attend weekly counseling sessions with ******** University Counseling/Student Development Center or any recommended psychiatrist.

Step 4: A permanent record could be placed on my transcript, thereby ensuring that I disclose and explain the situation in all future educational / job applications.

The end decision is yours; and I sincerely respect the choice you make. The academic committee has recommended dismissal, possibly because they were unaware of my circumstances and may have felt that my actions were deliberately calculated to take unfair advantage of the system. I assure you that this was not the case. I truly repent my mistake and am humbly requesting a second chance to prove myself. The aforementioned plan would help me better prepare for any similar situation that arises in the future. With this plan, I would now: (Step 1) be fully aware of the repercussions, thereby preventing me from making any rash decisions, (Step 2) realize the urgency in seeking help and immediately inform all necessary authorities, and (Step 3) be equipped with emotional and psychiatric tools to face the situation in a professional and rational manner.

Though I wish these recent events never came to transpire, they have taught me a great deal. Reflecting on the reasons behind academy honesty and other policies like attendance, clinical practicum behavior, and professionalism, I now truly understand that a high quality education is not possible for anyone unless all of us make a conscious effort to strictly adhere to our academic and ethical responsibilities.

I have learnt the importance of notifying all appropriate authorizes and seeking help in a timely manner. While I previously avoided my preceptors, I now make sure to approach everyone involved and send them copies of all email and other professional correspondence. I have also started counseling sessions at my religious center, ********, and met with the director of the ******** University Counseling / Student Development Center. Finally, I have realized the importance of keeping my personal and professional lives separate. I am happy to report that, after many serious conversations convincing them of my hopes and ambitions, they have apologized and are much more willing to give me time to study, provide the required finances for graduation (which they have already deposited in my account for the upcoming semester) and support me through the program. Even if their cooperation dies down, I am now ever more resilient and promise to seek immediate guidance from the distinguished faculty and advisory board members at ******** University.

******** ********: I understand that receiving a high quality education in the field of healthcare is a great privilege. In addition to performing my very best each day at ******** University, I have always aspired to uphold the highest standards of academic and personal integrity possible. Academic dishonesty is not only unethical and a sign of personal failure, it is also self-defeating and hinders the acquisition of clinical and professional skills. I realize that, by engaging in such conduct, I have not only insulted my instructors, who genuinely cared for me and spend hours sharing their knowledge, but also demoralized my hard working, honest classmates and compromised their reputation as well as that of the entire university.

I do not have any excuses for my ill-advised decisions. I apologize for my actions with the utmost sincerity and assure you that they will not repeat again, ever. I apologize not only to the faculty and committee members involved, but also to the entire ******** University Physician Assistant program and to all those who have helped provide me with the best education I could ever hope for. To my loving classmates and all aspiring healthcare professionals – I am remorsefully aware that my actions have hurt our collective morale. I understand I have violated your trust, but I assure you that I will never again infringe on any academic or professional ethics. I plead to you for a second chance to prove that I am worthy to be your colleague.

I love ******** University! Getting accepted here was the best thing that ever happened in my life. And though I have had to fight off family members and numerous age-old cultural beliefs about women, I am fully motivated to pursue my passion of providing the best healthcare for all human beings, regardless of social, immigration or economic status. But none of this is possible without the completion of my education.

I hope you will give me a second chance. Thank you so much for considering this appeal.

With Utmost Sincerity,
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Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2013 11:01 am
I think it's a decent letter, and it outlines what are clearly pretty bad (and unique) circumstances. I think the wording is fine. I would suggest that you supplement it with copies of anything at all you can get - e. g. hearing records from INS, etc. Provide proof that what you are saying is true, in addition to being bad news.
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Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2013 01:42 pm
It is a bit long . . .

You said: "Further, in a confused, delusional, momentous and extremely stupid decision, I submitted incorrect evaluations rather than confronting my preceptors about the problem. Even as a fully conscious grown adult, I was paralyzed by my silence. "

Is this the crux of your dismissal? If so, being "paralyzed by my silence" does not make sense.

You need to state the ramifications of submitting incorrect evaluations and tell how you plan to never do this again.

The letter also does not assure me that your cultural and marital laws from the old country will not affect your education again.

cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2013 06:58 pm
It's my humble opinion that it's too long, although the context are very well explained.

I'm not sure it's necessary to continue repeating the name of the university; that should be understood.

Asking for another chance is never wrong. Humans make mistakes all the time - even good people.
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