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Personal Finance 101 for Students- Part 3 (Credit)

We are here in the final part of this financial 101 series and here to talk about credit. I’ll discuss what credit is, how to begin building it if you are new to it, how to recover from bad credit, and the perks that having good credit comes with.

So starting off, what is the best definition of credit? As per Experian (one of the three major credit bureaus), credit is simply defined “the ability to borrow money or access goods or services with the understanding that you’ll pay later”. This is ‘ability’ is usually marked as a number between 300-850 between three different credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian and Equifax) where anything below 670 is considered not good and anything above it is usually good.

As with everything in life, there are nuances so don’t take my previous statement at face value as there are good opportunities below 670 and you can still get denied for stuff even with a 740-760.

So what components compose a credit score:

  • Payment History (35%)= How well do you make monthly payments on accounts
  •  Credit Utilization (30%)= The amount of total credit you are using divided by the total amount of available
  • Length of Credit History (15%) = the average age of your credit based on all accounts owned.
  • New Credit (10%)= The amount of new credit you open within a certain period of time.
  •  Credit Mix (10%) = The different types of accounts you

You also that can negatively affect your credit score such as late payments, collections, charged off accounts (accounts closed due to non-payment), and etc. Just like a GPA, you can have many good things about your credit but the moment one of these hit your report, you credit drops markedly. So it is within our best interest to avoid these whenever possible.

So to begin building credit, you must sign up for creditkarma and assess where you are. This site will give you a rough estimate of where your transunion and equifax scores are at using the Vantage 3.0 Score (which has minor inaccuracies but can serve as a good estimate of where you with credit) If you are a student and received any form of financial aid that comes in the form of a loan, you already have credit setup most likely. If you are an authorized user on your parents credit cards, you already have credit. If you own(ed) a credit card, you already have credit. So its established but you need to solidify it.

  1.  Secured Credit Card: This is a card meant for individuals with limited credit history or bad credit history and is used to show that you are capable of handling your money and finances. It will usually require an initial deposit for the card which will act as a limit. From there, you will use the card as normal. Making purchases and paying it back every month on the right due date. It is recommended that you make purchases on the card that you would be able to afford with cash, that way you aren’t owing any money or carrying a balance which may accrue interest.After approximately 6 months or so, you may be asked to switch over to an unsecured card in which you will be paid back you deposit and own an actual line of credit. 
  2. Authorized User: If you are below 18 or have less than prime credit, you may be able to become an authorized user on someone else’s account provided that they trust you enough to do so. Usually this will be an account of a family member or significant other. You won’t be responsible for making any payments but all payment history, account balances, and length of ownership will be put on to your credit. So if you have someone with good financial skills to make you an authorized user, their good habits will theoretically pay off for you in the long run.
  3.  Increase you credit limit/Get a better card: After a while (6 months to a year) of consistently good habits you have two options:
  • Increase current credit card limit: Most banks usually offer an increase of some sort provided that you’ve maintained good habits. The purpose of this is two-fold: it provides you with more credit to leverage in many situations as needed. It also gives you more leeway with regards to your credit utilization I mentioned above. For example, if you only spend $50/month but have a credit card limit of $250, you would be utilizing approximately 20% whereas if you spent the same amount but have $500 limit, you would only be at 10% which helps you maintain a higher score.
  •  Get a better card: Here’s where the fun comes in, a lot of credit cards out there comes with cash back opportunities and other redeemable rewards. If you have a 720+ score for instance, you might be eligible for the Capital One Savor Card which means you are eligible for 4% cash back on all dining/entertainment purchases as well as a $300 cash bonus plus other opportunities and rewards. That’s a simplified example, other cards are known to offer travel benefits, access to special events and etc. So why not reap the benefits.

And then you pretty much wash, rinse, and repeat this process. If you have bad credit (as I once did), I would follow the following process:

1. Get an actual credit report: []( gives you a free report once a year. You’ll want to see every derogatory remark on your credit, the monies owed, and etc that’s pulling your credit down.

2. Pay down your credit card debt: As you see in the calculation above, credit utilization accounts for a whopping 30% of your credit score so if your credit utilization is bad, you credit score is liekly not going to be good either. Setup a monthly budgeting plan to effectively pay off this debt without drowning in interests or monthly payments.

3. Make sure you aren’t late on any payments: Even if you make 98% of the payments on your accounts, it still isn’t a good range. Only 99% of payments paid and above is considered good.

4. Any sort of derogatory remarks on your credit should be disputed if there are any errors: People make mistakes of all sorts and sometimes you’ll end up with inaccurate reports on your account that you may need to dispute. A lot of times, collection companies will not follow up on these disputes and they usually get removed from your account. If there is any inaccuracy, I would attempt to dispute. If they even spell your name slightly wrong or the balance is off by a few dollars, dipsute it. It doesn’t hurt you in anyway to do so (unless you are disputing something that is fully accurate to your knowledge) and it is as simple as logging into credit karma and submitting a dispute. 

5. Try not to open up too many accounts at once: This not only hurts you because of something called a hard inquiry that is a negative remark but it also decreases the average age of credit which is not a good sign to credit lenders.

So why do you need good credit and what are the benefits? The short answer, credit runs everything financially. To truly leverage your financial standing in this country, its not about actually having a lot of cash, although that plays a role as well, its about credit. Good credit affords you the following:

  • Ability to borrow lump sums of money for major purchases that you may not have the immediate cash for: Houses, Cars, and Education to name the big ones
  •  You’ll be less likely to pay more money in the long term when borrowing for these things. Good credit holders usually qualify for lower interest rates and occasionally $0 down payments on expenses like those while those with less good credit will have to pay more upfront and in the long term.
  • Exploiting the benefits of high score credit cards is amazing. The amount of savings via cashback along with other personal benefits such as free travel, lounge and hotel access, and etc are unmatched and wouldn’t be feasible without good credit.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this last post. In August, I’ll be posting more academic stuff on how to study and etc so be on the lookout for that. Thanks for reading! 🙂


Personal Finance 101- Part 2 (Debt Management/Investing)

In Part 2 of the PF 101 Series, I want to discuss debt management and investing. 

So after graduating school, you’ll have to debate between the following options: 

1. Pursue higher education immediately after school

2. Take a gap year

3. Enter the workforce.

For the majority of people reading this, you are probably somewhere between 1 & 2. If you are graduating your final level of schooling, then you are looking at 3. But either way, there are usually options for everyone. But let’s look at the general gist of debt management and investing before making a decision as to what we’ll do. 

Debt Management

  • The question to ask yourself is: Am I new professional with little to no debt or one with a lot of debt? This determines your direction with regards to debt management. 
  •  A lot of people tend to favor the avalanche method of paying off debt which basically states that you pay the largest amount with the highest interest rate and go down from there.
  • This method allows you to pay the least amount of interest in the long-term while getting rid of your debt.
  • You are also to able to do a loan consolidation which is basically when an institution pays off your debt for you and allows you to pay them instead, sometimes for a lower interest rate. However, with this option you may see a temporary decrease in your credit score because this option requires a hard inquiry towards your credit (more on Hard Inquiries later). But with on-time payments and etc, this decrease will lose its effects over time.
  • This method is best reserved for student loans or at least 10,000 dollars in debt.

Also ask what type of debt is it: Credit Card debt, student loans, personal loans, or the dreaded ~collection~ 🙁 

While I will dive deeper into these metrics for the last part of the series, in general, I would recommend budgeting to pay  above the minimum payments on all with an emphasis on paying off credit cards first then loans. We’ll talk about collections and how to handle those in Part 3. 

Anyways, onto investing: 

  • In 2020, there are many ways to begin investing and you can start with as simple as $1 so there are virtually no more excuses for not being able to invest. I formerly used CashApp to invest into the stock market. It was simple, easy to use, and you also have the ability to invest fractionally which means if a stock cost $1,000 (looking at you Tesla), you wouldn’t have to buy the entire stock. You could simply just buy a $1 worth of stock and still reap the benefit percentage wise.
  • However, obviously just buying a dollar worth of stock and leaving it there won’t build any sort of real wealth unless you give it like 50 years but even then..
  • So what I would recommend you do is to just round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest that PLUS set an arbitrary amount that you’ll invest every week. Let’s keep it at $20. Assuming this totals out to be $27 dollars a week you invest, you’ll have invested $1,404 by the end of a year. Now if we assume a 5% increase in your portfolio by that time, you’ll have earned $70.20 which means you’ll be left with $1,474.20 at the end of the year.

Some investing platforms include: 

CashApp (

Acorns (

Schwab Stock Slices (

Robinhood (

WeBull (

“So Jay, what do I exactly do?” To which I respond, it all depends. There isn’t necessarily a one size fits all. 

Create an excel sheet to track your monthly expenses and see what you would prefer to tackle first. For me personally, I take on whatever could damage my credit the most and what I will be able to work out over a longer period of time (since credit honestly matters more than your salary to be honest).  

I am a graduate student with a fair amount of student loan and I know more student loan debt is coming around the corner, so I emphasized paying off any sort credit cards and the biggest, highest interest rate student loan I have currently with a plan to just exclusively use scholarships and federal aid  for future education that I will be able to defer payments on and consolidate later. 

Any money I do earn along the way is to take care of that big student loan with a huge interest rate as well as invest into the market. 

That’s just me though, I am not a financial expert. Just a kid who knows a thing or two about finance and wants to open you up to the potential of managing your finances properly. 

Please take your time, however, to do your own research and if possible, discuss finances with a financial expert of some sort. 

Anyways, catch my last installment of personal finance 101 next weekend where I’ll be discussing the overwhelming importance of credit. 

Peace Out, 

Jevaughn Henry

Personal Finance 101- Part 1 (Savings and Financing Your Education)

Being a student can be overwhelming at times. Between maintaining good grades, extracurrcicular activities and a social life- we sometimes lose track of our health and financial wellbeing. However, these two factors are paramount to living a fulfilling life and maximizing your potential in life.

In this particular article, I’ll be going over the personal finance aspect of your life that you may have been neglecting (the aspect that I’ve pretty much neglected up until little over a year ago to be honest). My goal in writing this article isn’t to necessarily educate you because I am not a finance major or financial professional; what I would like to do is introduce you to some general things about finance that I’ve personally overlooked and wished I had thought about sooner.

I’ll break this down into three parts over the course of the next two weeks: Savings & Financing Your Education, Debt Management/Investments, and Credit.


You ideally want to start by opening an high-interest savings account that is FDIC Insured. What do I mean by high interest? Yearly interest rates are usually below 1%, however, there are a few savings accounts where the interests are above 1.3-2.05% which would be considered high-interest.

After you find the right account for you, you want to create an emergency fund for yourself. This is usually defined as a safety net of 3-6 months worth of expenses that you can use in the case if you lose your job, get sick or etc. If you are a high school or college student and don’t really have defined monthly expenses, I would say start by trying to save $1,000.

From there, assess and create a general goal for yourself to save up to. 

If you are working, it is usually recommended that you save roughly 20% of your check and put it towards this until you’ve hit your desired threshold

Financing Your Education: This is deserving of its own article so I won’t go into too much detail. However, the following holds true:

  • Start by filling out FAFSA completely and ASAP and listing your potential colleges. This allows you to lock in the best possible federal aid options for financing your education if you need it.
  •  However, you should scoping out scholarships and grants from your institution (known as internal aid) and outside of your institution (external aid).
  • After you’ve maxed out all scholarships then you can exhaust federal options that you secured from FAFSA as needed while making sure you aren’t taking more than what you need.
  • If you are unable to afford the price tag that University ‘X’ is giving you, don’t be afraid to go to community college. There is a wide range of benefits of going to a two-year college first then transferring versus going straight to a four-year that a lot of people overlook due to the stigmas of going to a community college. I promise you that in the grand scheme of things, either option is acceptable.
  • Last but not least, private loans. Unless you have amazing credit or can secure a cosigner with amazing credit; I would recommend avoiding this method as much as possible and if forced to use this method, borrow the minimum amount possible. You don’t want to be caught in a high-interest loan with a lot of money owed on it.

Here’s a video to watch on good savings accounts to look into but again, it’s always good to do your own individual research: (

Here’s FAFSA General Guidelines for Federal Aid: (

Here’s a slightly more in-depth version of how to finance your education: (

Be on the lookout because I will be making my next post on debt management/investing sometime next week! Other than that, stay safe on this 4th of July! 

Peace out, 

Jevaughn Henry

The Unfair Advantage 

Does hard work truly equate to success? Yes it does (Sort of). I would say the math works out to be “Success = Hard Work x (Working Smarter + Luck)”. And in general, we know that if we increase any of these variables within reason, our success will be much greater! The Unfair Advantage by Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba discusses how we are all born with a set of ‘Unfair Advantages’ that can propel us into living successful lives. This advantage deals more so with the Working Smarter + Luck end of the equation to success. We can only work so hard in 24 hours between all of our responsibilities but working smarter allows us to get more stuff done within this 24 hour window and having luck means being able to skip steps towards success. Let me explain:

The start of the book begins with a quote from Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel on how he was able to reach his success: “‘**I am a young, white, educated male … I got really, really lucky. And life isn’t fair.’**”. And he isn’t wrong in saying that, Spiegel grew up and used his already available resources around him (affluent parents, strong education, and big-name connections) to make Snapchat and become successful. So was he lucky? Yes. Could his circumstances be copied? No. Can we still achieve success in life similar to his or in our own right? Of course! But we need to identify our Unfair Advantage and work towards that.

Another polar opposite the book starts off with relatively early with is Oprah Winfrey. A woman who we are all fairly familiar with as being a black North American multibillionaire. If you are unaware with her backstory, she didn’t have anywhere near as good of a childhood as Evan Spiegel unfortunately growing up in an extremely low-income household, having to deal with colorism inside of her own family plus a traumatic past of sexual molestation and assault. However, her parent did something that catapulted her into her amazing future career which was teaching her how to read extremely early in life. This later allowed her to be a top student in school, get major scholarships for college, have her own radio show which later turned into a television show that we know her for today.

They both had very opposite starting places but both are in very amazing positions today. The book discusses the MILES Framework of Unfair Advantages which can explain that phenomenon:

(M) Money: the capital you have, or that you can easily raise. (Spiegel had this)

(I) Intelligence and Insight: includes ‘book smarts’, social and emotional intelligence, as well as

creativity. (Oprah had this)

(L) Location and Luck: all about being in the right place at the right time. (Spiegel had this)

(E) Education and Expertise: our formal schooling and also your self-learning, which gives

you intellectual and technical know-how. (Both of them had this)

(S) Status: social status, including your network and connections. It’s your ‘personal brand’ ‒

in other words, how you’re perceived. It also includes your inner status, which is your

confidence and self-esteem. (Spiegel had this but Oprah grew this for herself as well)

Everyone has at least one of these unfair advantages and in most cases, can cultivate some of the others! For us individuals chasing medicine, I would argue that we definitely have the Intelligence but maybe we need to cultivate Education (This goes beyond taking classes. This means reading on your free time or using the internet to teach you about certain aspects of the application process or gaining mentorship as you are doing with this site.). From there, you can leverage your Location/Luck. Maybe you go to school fairs or pre-med/research conferences, meet with people and then build your Status. And then leverage yourselves into the right positions of power and success. That’s an example of pinpointing your unfair advantage and using it to cultivate other advantages based on that.

For me personally, it was really the intelligence and location. My Mom was always running behind me when I was younger, putting me in school as early as the age of 2 where I practiced reading and writing. Then also me going to school in NYC allowed me to have a decent education while working in some of the best hospitals and shadowing some of the best doctors in the country. From there, I leveraged myself into getting better with other unfair advantages.

I know in light of current times with the black community under fire between police brutality and the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting us, we may feel powerless. But believe me when I say, we still have the potential to be great and things are still trending in the right direction (albeit we still have a lot of work to get done in the communities). However, rather than just working hard, we need to change our mindsets into working efficiently to maximize our results in life. If you have any questions or thoughts to add, please feel free to comment down below. I hope you enjoyed and stay safe!

-Jevaughn (Jay)

Conference for premeds

African Americans in Health (AAIH) at USC is having their first conference. It’s going to be a good opportunity to learn about applying to medical school, studying for the MCAT, and exploring gap year options.

Zoom link:

Virtual Health Ambassador Summer Internship

Attention: Middle School, High School, College and Graduate Students

You are invited to attend the

Mentoring in Medicine

Virtual Health Ambassador Summer Internship

with a special track for Spanish-Speaking students

Dates: Monday, July 13 to Thursday, August 6

Monday to Thursday from 10am to 3pm EST (no class on Fridays)


You will have a chance to:

Learn from leading healthcare professionals

Conduct biomedical research and write a scientific publication

Launch a walking club or weight loss challenge

Design and promote public health campaigns

Attract scholarship dollars

Earn service learning hours

Create a new dance trend

Design video games

Produce a radio commercial

Build a YouTube Channel

Cost: ^FREE^

Option to make a donation is available when you register. The sessions will be recorded.


Pathways to Health Professions

Mentoring in Medicine Speaker Series Presents



Mekbib Gemeda

Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS)

Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Time: 8pm – 9pm EST

Learn how to:

* Explore various paths towards health professions schools

* Examine ways to own, construct and tell your story

* Explore ways to find strength and persistence


(A recording will be made available)

Speaker: Prior to joining EVMS, Mr. Gemeda served for eight years as the Assistant Dean for Diversity Affairs and Community Health and the founding Director of the Center for the Health of the African Diaspora at New York University School of Medicine. Mr. Gemeda has more than a decade of experience in national and local efforts to reduce health disparities and increase diversity in the biomedical workforce. Learn more at

Should I Study or Protest???

In these racially challenging times, should premeds be going out to join the protest or should we stay buckled down and study for our MCAT exams? This question was recently posed by a member of the PreMed Mondays group.

The murder of George Floyd is taking a HUGE mental, emotional, and even physical toll on our country. Black individuals and those who sympathize with the struggles faced by the community are stepping up to say enough is enough. Peaceful, safe, and law abiding protest is highly encouraged, BUT this leads to a dilemma for premeds who want to be a part of this movement but already have a full plate (e.g. applying to medical school or studying for the MCAT). So, the question arises…How should you spend your time? How can you make the biggest impact?

There are a few things to consider when evaluating these questions. The first is, what does your heart tell you. One of my mentors is constantly reminding me to function from a perspective of no regrets. There are certain things in life that you know you’ll regret if you don’t pursue. You’ll have to decide if being out in the crowd is one of those things.

A second thing to consider is how you join the movement. Every person has his or her own role to play in promoting justice. It is true that functioning on one accord is essential for success, however, that does not mean that everyone does the same job. I imagine that most respectable members of the community would advise premeds NOT to disrupt their studies in critical times and to get the job done to get accepted to medical school. 9 out of 10 would likely say you’re more needed as a doctor than a protester. For most of us in the medical field…that would be our larger impact. As a physician, you’re needed daily to advocate for your patients and community. You’re essential!

Now, with all that said, you should keep in mind that doing both may be possible. If you’re focused and use your study time wisely, it is possible to peacefully and lawfully protest as well. These two things are NOT mutually exclusive.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Protest or study?

image credit:

Keep pushing. This Road is not easy!

What up guys! I am shouting out today to talk about premed and doubts. 

So why am I going to talk about this topic.. well I have been there multiple time and it will probably not be the last time. Our journey is long and so hard. But there are hundreds of people taking the same journey. Do not be afraid to reach out to your fellow pre med friends chances are they are going through the same page as you. Many times people has told me Alex are you sure you want to take this journey or I do not  thing this is the right path for you! This really hurt me and I left the premed track at a few times but the thing is at the end of the day I am always going back to medicine and  it absolutely does not matter what people say. if you want it bad enough it will happen. My GPA is around a  3.0 and that is of the lest few semesters I have worked so hard and so long and made great grades. I will me at ole miss a little longer then expected I  am a senior. And that is ok take as long as you need to get the grades you want and if your GPA is not where you like it for the MCAT then get you fellow classmates, teachers or what ever resources you can find   to help you study and  get the best MCAT score you can. And if you need to peruse higher education then do it. Because at the end of the day we want to become doctors. We love the world and want to help repair it and  for me the  look on peoples faces when they have good news is one of the reasons I want to peruse this career. We do not look at the money it about our passion. So seek help. Keep moving forward. This road is not easy nor will it ever be. We are is a challenge most people say no we are not smart enough to do it.  we are all in this together! I believe in you and that you will shine! Do not ever forget why you want to peruse medicine!

The Perfect Letter of Recommendation

Hopefully, by this time those applying to medical school this upcoming cycle have requested for their letters of recommendations. The letter of recommendation can be neutral but may also make or break your chances at getting into medical school. One bad letter can ruin everything even for the otherwise flawless student whereas one solid letter from the right person can take even those with lower scores to the top of the pile. Half of the students who have approached me for a letter have demonstrated great etiquette while the other half have been… lets just say, pretty alarming. For those who have procrastinated and for those future applicants, I have listed a few tips below.

1. Choosing a Letter Writer

Types of recommenders include professors (science and non-science), physicians, premed advising committee (if offered by school), research director, principal investigator, graduate program director, or medically-related extracurricular supervisor. If applying to osteopathic programs, it’s nice to have a letter from a DO. It is always better to have someone who knows you and thinks highly of you over someone well respected. They need to be able to speak highly on your qualifications, competencies, unique characteristics and why they think you will be valuable to these programs. It is not fair to ask a professor you do not know and place them in an awkward position. This is a big reason why Dr. Dale and I always preach the importance of office hours and getting to know your professors. It is also a big reason to stay in touch with people. If you did well in the class and established a good relationship make sure that professor knows your goal is to become a doctor and that you would love if they could stay in touch and they could write a letter for you when the time comes.

2. How to Approach

It is best to approach your potential letter writers for the first time early on, at the end of a semester after you have received your final grade or after a shadowing/volunteering experience you enjoyed. This way you are on their radar. Share with them your plans to become a doctor and that you would love a letter from them in the future if they are willing. Ask if you may stay in touch with them. Approach the letter writer again roughly four months before applying. My recommendation would be face-to-face meeting > email > phone. There is a good chance the letter writer is popular and teaches a lot of students so you want to be memorable and don’t want your message buried or placed at the back of the line. You may ask to meet the letter writer during office hours or depending on your relationship, over a cup of coffee.

3. What to Ask

Hopefully your potential letter writer knows you well but if not, it is important that you first start by introducing yourself and your link with them. A little bit of flattery always helps. Let them know how you enjoyed their class or your experience shadowing. You may even share a memorable moment or something you learned. “Are you willing to write a very STRONG letter of recommendation for me?” Simple as that. There are way too many students who will get awesome letters. You want someone that is super impressed with your work to write this letter or at least someone who is willing to learn a bit about you in order to appreciate how awesome you are. There is little to no benefit in a so-so, mediocre letter. If they are honest with you and aren’t able to write a strong letter, be gracious for their truth and don’t be offended. Simply move on to the next. Make sure to let them know when you plan to submit and ask if they are okay with a reminder.

4. What to Give Them

Be prepared to provide your recommender your CV, transcript and personal statement or brief summary/reminder of who you are. You may do this via email or bring with you in person. I am a huge proponent of including your Diverse Medicine profile link and/or your LinkedIn Profile link in your email signature. This will help them learn more about you and place a face with your name. You do not want to overwhelm the writer with too much info but if you know that they are the type that would want a little guidance you may provide them with the AAMC guideline.

5. How to Follow-up

As mentioned earlier, you need ask the letter writer if it is okay to follow-up at certain intervals. You may check in on them with an email 1 month before you plan to submit. Make sure you do not have any embarrassing or incriminating data online. There is always a chance your letter writer or anyone evaluating you throughout the interview process will search for you. Clean up your social media and make sure your email address is professional and unassuming. It is also important not to burn bridges along the entire application process. If a recommender hears something troubling about you, they may feel obligated to rescind their letter or contact the schools to warn them.

6. Other Important Information

It is important to waive your rights to see the letters in order to protect the letter writers and allow them to be fully transparent with the school. Programs such as Interfolio may help in organizing your letters. However, this is way after my time so check with other premeds on the site about their experience with this. Don’t forget to thank your letter writer afterwards. Update them along the application season. You never know if they have connections at a program you are waitlisted on or one you have not heard back from. Also, make sure to contact the medical school recruiters on Diverse Medicine if you will be applying to their program and feel free to ask them specifics about their school.

Any tips on getting that perfect letter? Feel free to share with your peers.


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