Devoting my life to people, my wish




I want to be a doctor. It is my passion and my dream. I have done everything up to this point to get myself to medical school. The only thing holding me back? Banks' reluctance to loan me the money I need for tuition because I don't have any assets, or a viable guarantor to back me.

This is my story:

I am not one of those people who knew from a young age that I wanted to become a physician. In fact, in high school, I discontinued studying science as soon as I could and aimed to pursue a career in the Arts. In my last year of high school, I took an exercise science course that first exposed me to the study of the human body. Boldly, I decided I would apply to a post-secondary school that offered Kinesiology and Health Science as a B.A. (meaning I did not need any science pre-requisites to be considered for the program). I was absoutely overjoyed when they offered me early admission, only to realize I probably could not afford it. I came from a single parent household and grew up in government-assisted housing. Needless to say, money was always an issue. My family's financial situation warranted some teasing in grade school from my peers, but I was more preoccupied with learning anyhow, and I didn't pay much attention. I acknowledged that I was blessed - I was healthy and loved. I was angered at the fact that simply being born into relative poverty, despite having so much potential, could be so limiting.



I was determined to not let money stop me. I applied for provincial loans, but was afraid they would not give me enough to cover my tuition. I had been working since I was 13, but did not have much saved. My mother had fractured both of her shoulders and was unable to work. Without her income to help financially support us, I worked multiple jobs the summer before I started university, some days working 3 different shifts at 3 different places, to supplement what I expected to receive in loans for school. (In retrospect, I'm amazed at how I did that). I worked various part-time positions throughout my undergraduate studies and 5 years after I started, I graduated with a B.A.! In my last year, I spent a lot of time doing research in cardiovascular physiology (I had discovered in my undergrad I had a passion for the heart and the brain). In fact, as an undergraduate, I had helped to pilot a 'Peer Assisted Study Session' program with the college I was affiliated with, in order to help other students like me, with little science background, understand anatomy and physiology concepts, and to find the study habits that best suit them. One professor that worked closely with me for a couple of years, had come to learn towards the end of my bachelors that I wanted to continue in research and invited me to speak with her about an opportunity to work in her lab on a project that was to evaluate a novel treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Again, I was afraid of how I would fund my graduate studies. I came to learn that I would be getting a stipend and scholarship large enough to cover my tuition and living expenses (and even a little bit extra). Things were looking up for me. I continued to work part-time as well, and it wasn't easy. I had my share of allnighters, and countless 16-hour days. I  was a part of this project for just over 2 years, and grew passionate about working with older populations, particularly those with neurodegenerative diseases. In working with individuals with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, alongside the neurosurgeon collaborators, I can say with certainty that I want to devote my life to serving other people, within the medical field. I have never been more sure of anything in my life. I want to have a direct impact on their life, on their health, helping to treat them and care for them, while helping in the search for better diagnostic tools and treatment options. You can see more about my research and volunteer work here: ca.linkedin.com/in/michellecdragan/

One week ago, I interviewed and received an offer on the spot for a seat in the graduate school of medicine at the university that I applied to. I left the interview in tears, over the moon. I have since accepted the offer and paid a significant deposit from my savings to secure my spot in the program.

This week, I have met with several banks to discuss my options to secure the funding I require to take this next step in my education. My mother, having returned to school herself and  gotten a good job working in a hospital, has agreed to co-sign on a loan. Although she has good credit, makes a decent salary, and we have collectively saved a good amount, we have been turned down by multiple banks because we have no substantial assets to secure the loan. In order to get the $250,000 loan I need to cover my full tuition, I need to have $100,000 or find a viable co-signer.

I have 3 months to obtain the funding I need before I lose my deposit and my seat.  I have worked so hard to get here, and although I may have the the passion, dedication, motivation, persistence and potential to get myself an acceptance to the school, finding a way to fund this is beginning to seem impossible. The idea that the lack of funds will be the only thing that prevents me from going is excruciatingly painful. I would be so grateful for absolutely any help, everything counts. 

With sincere thanks,

Michelle
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Organizer

Mishelle Dragan 
Organizer
Mississauga, ON
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