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Please help with my appeal letter

  1. Dec 26, 2013 #1
    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,
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2013 #2
    I don't know anything about what a Dean would do or has the power to do. Nor do I have much experience with college in general, but I did read the entire thing. I am always skeptical of what people say and usually come to the conclusion they are lieing and BS'ing me. Possibly more since you are a international student and I would not understand your customs and ways. But over all you really did sound sincere and I would personally give you another chance. That said...I also felt like it was extremely long and too much apologies almost, but hey that may be a good thing. Anyways, best of luck to you, I kind of know what it is like to be in a bad situation, but that happened back in high school which resulted in denial to every university I ever dreamed of going to. Now I have to deal with the consequences and I am at a community college looking to transfer to a decent school and hopefully still go somewhere in my life. If you are denied this chance to continue, what will you do?
  4. Dec 26, 2013 #3
    Thank you so much for your reply. Ya I realized it is way too long. It's just that I want to say everything, but it's definitely hurting me than doing any good.

    Thank you for reading the whole thing. Anything in particular that you would recommend I delete?

    I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. Trust me my sympathies are with you. Idk what I would do if this doesn't work. Obviously a lot of depression is going to come into play. But, eventually, I would attempt to find something in India that is similar and try my best to convince family.

    I'm really passionate about a career in healthcare. It's been such a struggle so far... I'm not willing to give up
  5. Dec 26, 2013 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I think you're not coming at this from a useful direction.

    What new information is provided? What does the dean know now that he didn't before. As far as I can tell, he knows a) you had difficulties in your personal life and b) the expulsion made you sad. Unfortunately, (b) would have been a good guess, so that's not really new. (A) isn't much better - we all have problems in our personal lives at some time or other; how does he know that the next time there isn't a crisis, you won't submit incorrect - I assume you mean fabricated - evaluations again?

    Here's the dean's dilemma. Suppose he reinstates you, and suppose in the future (once you are a PA) you are under stress again and there is a similar incident, but this time people die. Now the dean is morally - and possibly legally - culpable.

    You have to convince him that this will not happen again.

    Note that I didn't say you have to convince him that you were under a lot of pressure, nor did I say that you have to convince him that the committee didn't give you a fair shake by not contacting you sooner or more often, nor that the incident didn't actually happen (what "allegations" suggests). You have to convince him that this will not happen again. Every single word in this letter needs to work towards that end.

    You should also prepare yourself for the appeal to be denied. First, if the dean regularly overrules the committee, the people on the committee get annoyed. He has to support their decision most of the time, otherwise why bother to have a committee? Second, there is a line of people waiting to become a PA. Why shouldn't one of them have your slot? From the dean's perspective, the simplest and least risky thing to do is to deny your appeal and accept one more student in the incoming class.
  6. Dec 26, 2013 #5
    Vanadiam 50 -- Thank you so much for your reply. I 100% agree with you that that's what I have to convince him. I was trying to go for that, but I guess it could def be done better.

    I have learned from my mistake and, trust me, I will never ever repeat anything like this ever again. I'm not a terrific writer so just having a difficult time conveying this point...

    Also, I want it to be like half the size - its just too long I feel. I want to say everything and yet I think it's hurting than doing any good.

    Thank you so much for your feedback. It has helped tremendously. I will be sure to change the word allegation and go over again and again with all the words I have chosen.
  7. Dec 26, 2013 #6


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    Honestly after reading it I see: excuse, excuse, I'm sorry, excuse. It depends on the the type of person the dean is I suppose, some people are moved by such stories and appeals. If it were me I'd just own it, I made a mistake, I knowingly violated the rules, I'm seeking help, and I should be dismissed. To suggest this was causative because of your personal issues would make me think twice about your ability to actually function in a medical environment.

    To comment on the writing itself, you would be better off structuring it like any good paper, an introduction, argument, and a conclusion- supporting evidence and all, even. Right now it feels kind of haphazardly organized.

    If your are able to submit a package, it might be beneficial to see if any of your instructors could also argue on your behalf. The sob background story would carry a lot more weight coming from them, and they could attest to your abilities. This might have already happened though without your knowledge during the academic review.

    Good luck, I wish you the best.
  8. Dec 27, 2013 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    I think you didn't quite get the point. Let me be more direct.

    This letter does more harm than good. It reinforces the idea that the dismissal was correct.

    Remember, the dean is making what could quite literally be a life and death decision. Furthermore, if he upholds the dismissal, nobody will question him. So this letter has to convince him that keeping you is better than just taking one more student next cycle to fill your place. That is nowhere to be found.

    Worse, what you did was to take the well-being of your patients, weigh them against your personal goals and ambitions, and decide in favor of yourself. And what is the essay about? "Me, me, me!" Student100 is right that it sounds like a parade of excuses. It sounds like you are sorry that you got caught, because that interferes with your personal goals and ambitions. You mention your patients exactly once, and you never indicate that you understand that your actions put them at risk. If I were the dean, reading this essay I would conclude "He hasn't learned a damn thing."

    Your excuses and your insinuations that the committee bungled the decision don't help. To risk repeating myself, the dean is entrusted with ensuring the well-being of your patients. How do your excuses help him do that? How does your suggestion that the committee treated you unfairly help him do that?

    From reading this letter it's clear that you and the dean want different things. Emphasizing what you want - to escape the consequences of your actions - is not going to help the dean get what he wants - healthy patients, and to preserve the integrity of his institution. The only way you are going to get what you want - and I really mean the only way - is to show him that giving you what you want also gets him what he wants.

    Will this be difficult? Yes it will. You screwed up badly, and I think you still don't understand exactly how badly. These things can be difficult to reverse.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  9. Dec 27, 2013 #8
    Student100 and Vanadium 50 -- I beginning to understand what you guys are saying! It's my patients, it's ensuring that I never do this in the future, it's about integrity. NOT about what happened or what my excuses were.

    I'll be restructuring the letter and emphasizing your points. Thank you so much for this help.
  10. Dec 27, 2013 #9


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    It's not for me pass judgement on your cultural background, but if I were in the Dean's position, I think the words I put in bold are the most telling in the whole letter.

    It seems to me, that is the root cause of all of the problems here.
  11. Dec 30, 2013 #10


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    good luck man
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