After graduating from medical school overseas, I came to the United States hoping to get a spot in residency. A few years went by with no luck. At that time, I had just started a family and was forced to take on odd jobs to help support them. Every year, I saved up a few thousand dollars to apply but was met with constant rejection. Ten years had gone by, and I still had not matched into a residency program - but I never lost hope. In 2012, I was living in Chicago when I got a phone call for a Psychiatry interview in New Jersey. I was really excited. But two days before the interview, I found out out that all flights to New Jersey were cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. I was dismayed. Feeling horrible, I lay in my bed for a few hours. All of a sudden something inside me told me that I needed to get up and go. Maybe it was a sign from God, I am not really sure. I woke up my wife and told her that we needed to drive to New Jersey. She called me crazy for trying to drive through a hurricane. Eventually she came around and we set off with our daughter. My wife was seven months pregnant at that time. As we got closer and closer to New Jersey, the weather got crazier - there was debris flying in the air and all the exits were rerouted due to the weather. Eventually, by some miracle, we arrived at a motel in New Jersey. There was no electricity but a comfortable bed and a hot shower were good enough for us. The next day, I went to my interview only to find that no one was in, except the senior resident. The other two applicants that day had not shown up. The resident called the program director and explained the situation to him. A little while later, I came to find out that the program director came all the way to the hospital just to see me - he was shocked that anyone would drive all the way from Chicago to New Jersey in the middle of a hurricane. He wanted to see me in person. As soon as he walked up to me, he offered me a spot in their residency program! He said that the kind of dedication I displayed is exactly what he would want in a resident in the program. I was extremely thankful for this opportunity. To show my appreciation and gratitude, I worked extremely hard every day as a resident, going above and beyond of what was expected of me. I eventually became chief resident and won the Best Resident Award for never taking a single day off. And so, Hurricane Sandy was a low point for many people, but for me, it changed my life completely for the better. And it taught me an important lesson - never give up on a dream.
Dr. Syed E Maududi