Hello, I’m Smruti Mahapatra, an Indian citizen working as a clinical research coordinator in the pulmonary research department at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT. I completed a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay) in 2018 (Mumbai, India) and a master’s in chemical engineering in 2020 from Johns Hopkins University with a thesis in biomedical engineering and neurosurgery. While working on my graduate thesis, I realized my passion to become an interdisciplinary physician-scientist, and with that ambition in mind, I have been working on building a competitive application to medical schools in the US. After 3 years, I finally received 4 admits for the MD program from Tulane University, the University of Illinois in Chicago, Kansas City University, and Nova Southeastern University. Before you dismiss the rest of my email as another random request, I want to shed some light on the paragraph above. Those 128 words summarize a journey of being an exception at every stage. What’s so exceptional about medical school? Let’s start with some numbers. According to the American Association of Medical College (AAMC), in 2019, 1,890 foreign applicants applied to M.D. granting programs in the United States, and 325 of those applicants were accepted. This translates to an acceptance rate of 21% for foreign applicants, compared to the overall acceptance rate of 40% for all applicants. Almost all medical schools that admit international students require completion of all premed prerequisites, and consequently, an undergraduate degree in the US. Well, anyone can spew numbers, what’s so special, you ask. Let’s add some detail. How about studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) alongside a tough graduate course load, a full-time research thesis, gathering clinical experience through hospital volunteering, and working part-time jobs to support me, while being 9000 miles away from family without any financial or emotional support? Well, many students are hard-working, you say. How about applying to 40 medical schools during the first application cycle and getting rejected from each and every one of them, after putting in your blood and sweat into it? How about getting shattered by failure but still gathering your pieces, improving your application, and applying again? How about putting your career on line for something that has lower chances than getting struck by lightning? Not many, I guess. If you’re still reading, I’ll assume that my story has had some impact on you. My story has been incredibly tough so far, filled with tears, failures, and mistakes. But I’m proud of it and wouldn’t have it any other way, because I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those setbacks. But a good story needs a happy conclusion, and that’s where I need your help. Because I’m an international student, I do not qualify for any financial aid or subsidy to pay for medical school. The only option I have is to obtain external funding or private loans. For international students to obtain private loans, a US citizen cosigner is required. My family back in India is not in a position to help me financially. The handful of US citizens I know have responsibilities hindering their ability to cosign for me. Without financial backing, I cannot attend medical school and all my efforts go to waste. Would it be possible for anyone to help me connect to the right people to obtain a loan or scholarship in any way for tuition fees? I thoroughly believe that merit and perseverance can overcome all odds, and your help will reaffirm my conviction. I know you have hundreds of reasons to reject my plea, but if there’s one in a million chance that you’d consider my request, I’m willing to take the risk. After all, isn’t that how exceptions are made?