I presented to the Executive Facutly Board yesterday. Here's what I said:
Hello. I am Alyssum Pohl, a third year vet student here. I understand that the student promotions committee met yesterday and voted for my dismissal based upon my grades. I am here to share with you who I am beyond my ‘file’. I am a person who has dedicated years of hard work to this profession, and is not willing to quit. Several months ago, in the student lounge, one of my classmates raised the question to a group of us, “if you won the lottery right now, would you quit vet school?” and the unequivocal answer for each of us was “ No”. Despite the emotional hardships, the time and financial commitments, being a vet is paramount to any other dreams we may have. We worked hard to get here, we’re working hard to get through, and I am not going to be the first to give up.
While I recognize that my performance has been poor, I must say that the reasons for this are multifactorial and that none of the reasons reflect how I might perform as a doctor. Since my matriculation here, have been misdiagnosed with ADHD (which I was treated unsuccessfully for) and then properly re-diagnosed this year with severe test anxiety, which I am currently being treated for, although I am currently between doctors. The traditional method of testing has indeed proven to be challenging for me and I don't believe this method accurately assesses my comprehension of material that I have diligently studied and learned in my 4 years here. In addition to the academic pressure of vet school, I have had to cope with extraordinarily extenuating circumstances such as the misfortune of losing my 2 precious cats and all my possessions including syllabi and notes from the past 3 years in a house fire last spring. Then, four months ago my fiancé underwent an unexpected, life-threatening heart surgery. I have been dealing with these struggles daily. Despite these issues I have not given up, complained or failed any of my classes. I fully appreciate that grades are generally the measure by which you must determine our ability to enter clinics. However, my grades do not accurately reflect my determination, my compassion, my curiosity, my enthusiasm for this profession, or the amount that I have learned in the past several years.
During my first summer here I was awarded the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation grant to do research on Brucellosis and Tuberculosis in Nicaragua. This is a prestigious accomplishment of which you, the administration and Tufts faculty, can be proud and certain that you have not made a mistake in accepting me to this institution. I am a valuable veterinary candidate! Without question, my absolute intention is to continue learning and contributing to the veterinary profession my whole life. I understand and appreciate the concern that you must have for me entering clinics when my performance has been so poor to this date. I will be the first to admit that I am not an A student that has unfairly made Ds—but I do feel like my extenuating circumstances have contributed greatly to the situation where we are now. I want you to have confidence in my abilities, and I feel like extensive review material coupled with clinical experience will help show you that I am no less capable than my colleagues. I was given the option to present to you in a month’s time, but I decided to do this today so that I can make the best use of my time.
Therefore, I propose that I spend the next 3 weeks reviewing large and small animal medicine with my tutors who have helped bring my grades up as much as 15% from one exam to the next, and checking in with professors each week to monitor my progress and ensure that any points that I may have had trouble with in the past would be clarified. I will then take a 2 week (pending) elective in the large animal hospital in March which would be ideal since there are didactic rounds which will be great review for me and I will be able to get an excellent handle on my cases during the relatively slow month of March. I am currently scheduled to go on to Pathology in April, which will also be a wonderful review for me, and I’ll be able to continue any necessary review work in the evenings and on weekends during that rotation. Before the end of May, I have 4 additional weeks of elective time during which I have hoped to do externships with Dr. Hue Karreman (a dairy vet in PA) and Dr. Kavanaugh, but am willing to do any elective or review that you might think more appropriate to show my competence. I would consider this a sort of trial period until the end of May when we might reconvene. If at that time you determined that I was best fit to repeat 3rd year or to be dismissed entirely I would gracefully accept your decision. If allowed to continue from there on, I have almost all of my core rotations (except Small animal surgery) before November, and I am confident, that the combination of the hands-on experience and the extra review will bode well for me passing the boards.
I am Alyssum Pohl. I am more than just a file of mediocre grades. My heart and soul are invested in the endeavor of becoming a vet. I have proven in the past that reviewing material does improve how well I am able to show my proficiency—you can see this in my performance from my 1st year to my 2nd 1st year. I am willing to do what ever it takes to continue in this program. I am proud to be here, and I will not disappoint you if you continue to give me the opportunity to show you that I will make an excellent veterinarian. I am determined to graduate from Tufts University with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.
Thank you for hearing me.
There were about 15 people on the board, all people that I hold in high regard. They asked me questions about my tutors, about my diagnoses, and difficult questions like "how do you test mastery?" and lots of other good questions. I felt like I presented myself well. I held back tears though my eyes did well up a couple times. I could see that they were dismayed that I was not an easy case. Too bad I wasn't clearly either a genius or a retard. I was in there for about 40 minutes. The board had other things to discuss beyond my case, and who knows how long they talked. I am waiting to hear from them what they decide.