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In pursuit of a dream

Alumnus Junheng (David) Li is flourishing at the University of New South Wales. Having just completed the second year of his Doctor of Medicine programme, he shares some of the highlights, experiences and opportunities he enjoyed in 2022 to inspire those looking to follow in his footsteps.
In pursuit of a dream

Top scholar Junheng (David) Li left a legacy of excellence at ACG Sunderland – not only was he 2020 school Dux, but he was also the recipient of the prestigious and life-changing ACG Founders' Scholarship.

Now commencing his third year of Med School, David is continuing to blaze a trail with top academic results that have firmly cemented his place in Phase Two of the highly competitive University of New South Wales (UNSW) programme.

"In 2022, despite the greater demand on second-year medical students, my Weighted Average Mark (WAM) for my written exams ensured I was in the distinction grade. This places me well above the threshold for honours selection in year four," says the hardworking Doctor of Medicine student.

"Completing an honours year will enable me to gain real exposure to research - an area I'm personally interested in."

Presently, pathology is his field of choice, although a newfound interest in neurology has reminded David to remain receptive.

"Pathology is definitely one of the specialities I'm most interested in. However, as I explore the medical field, I should keep an open mind about other specialities that may interest me.

This exploration will mean a step up for 2023 – Phase Two represents a transition to increased clinical exposure for third-year medical students, who will spend three days each week in a hospital learning environment. David can't wait!

Since moving to Sydney in 2021, the aspiring doctor has gone from strength to strength, making the most of every opportunity within the confines of a global pandemic. As Covid restrictions loosened, he welcomed the increase in face-to-face learning and the chance to hone his clinical skills both on campus and during hospital practicums.

"Fortunately, we were lucky enough to resume our fortnightly clinical placement in all four teaching terms in 2022. These were invaluable learning experiences, and it was always a pleasure learning from real patients – there are things you cannot simply learn from textbooks alone."

Mentoring was another highlight, with first and second-year cohorts integrated in the second half of the teaching year.

"It was great taking up the senior role in this arrangement because it enabled me to reflect on how far I'd come and practice my mentoring skills. This year I plan to build on that by becoming a tutor for younger Phase One students, allowing me to pursue my hobby of tutoring while also providing an excellent revision opportunity."

Increased participation in extracurriculars has been another bonus, from volunteering at the Medical Student Aid Project (MSAP) birthing kit nights and participating in MedShow 2022 to attending networking events such as the UNSW Internal Medicine Society Conference and MedSoc's Meet the Medics. David admits it's challenging to find the time but explains that it's one of the myriad ways the ACG Founders' Scholarship (valued at up to $75,000 over three years) continues to benefit him.

"The ACG Founder's Scholarship has been very helpful financially and as a source of confidence and motivation. It has provided me with the means to realistically pursue my academic dreams and the flexibility to continue pursuing some of my hobbies and extracurricular activities. One aspect I'll always be grateful for is how the scholarship has allowed me to give back to my parents by relieving some pressure from them, something I continue to feel very positive about."

However, while the ACG Founders' Scholarship is one of many things that helped lay the foundations for success, David believes five years at ACG also has a great deal to do with it.

"My time at ACG Sunderland definitely helped me adapt quickly to the challenges of living abroad by building the foundations of simple good habits such as time management, finding balance, managing responsibilities effectively and taking care of myself.

"Now, after two years in Sydney, I continue to see the importance of resilience and adaptability. I've also come to appreciate the value of reflection as a tool for academic and holistic growth. I am incredibly grateful to ACG for the support they've given me, without which I don't believe I could be where I am today."

The ACG Founders' Scholarship is open to any domestic ACG College student in New Zealand who plans to commence a course of university study the following year.