Class of 66 marks golden anniversary with $20,000 scholarship

Robert Menzies retired after a record 16 years as Prime Minister.

Bob Dylan played the Brisbane Festival Hall on his World Tour.

Decimal currency was introduced, and the average weekly wage was just $57.

The School of Medicine Class of 1966 graduation year was a time of considerable social and political change.

Australia has come a long way in 50 years - as has the Class of 66. When they reconvened for their golden anniversary reunion, members were keen to do more than just reminisce about the past. In fact, the group hatched a plan to raise funds for a one-off scholarship – the 1966 Golden Reunion Scholarship.

Dr Don Perry-Keene and the reunion organising committee led the fundraising efforts. Members of the Class of 66 were quick to open their wallets to support the idea.

“We decided to award the scholarship to an academically gifted first year medical student in need of financial support – because your financial position should not dictate how you perform in medical school. We can all remember how demanding a medical degree can be, and fortunately we are now in a position to give back.”

Dr Don Perry-Keene

Some $20,000 was raised. The 1966 Golden Reunion Scholarship was presented at the 2017 prize and scholarships evening – to an ‘over the moon’ Michelle Kim.

Michelle Kim receives her scholarship from Professor Stuart Carney, Medical Dean and Professor Robyn Ward, Acting Executive Dean

Michelle Kim receives her scholarship from Professor Stuart Carney, Medical Dean and Professor Robyn Ward, Acting Executive Dean

“I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the donors when I found out I had been selected for the scholarship,” says Michelle.

Michelle with some of the Class of 1966 donors

Michelle with some of the Class of 1966 donors

“It is truly an incredible opportunity, and will really allow me to focus solely on medical school. I currently provide financial support for my Mum and brother, so the financial strain is always there. It can be difficult managing work with my huge study load. Receiving this scholarship will truly transform the future of my degree.”

Michelle Kim

Michelle became interested in medicine when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 14 years old.

Michelle with her mum and brother

Michelle with her mum and brother

“I had never thought about medicine as a career before then. I had an interest in law, as we had family friends who were lawyers, and I liked the hands-on work that they did. But when Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, I saw first-hand the amazing work health professionals do, and the impact they make. I was so inspired by the medical profession. My mindset shifted to medicine and I changed my school subjects to science. I’ve been focused on pursuing medicine ever since.”

Michelle at graduation

Michelle at graduation

After finishing year 12 in 2012, Michelle was offered a place in UQ’s Provisional Entry to Medicine. But after completing her first degree, she had to make the tough decision to defer her studies. “After completing my Biomedical Science degree, I had to defer my studies for a year and focus on helping my family improve our financial position.”

Michelle plans on saving the scholarship money until phase two of her degree. She is still working casually, but once she enters her clinical years, she plans to devote herself to her clinical rotations.

“The scholarship means I can completely immerse myself into the clinical work of phase two, without compromising my learning by having to split time between university and work.”

Michelle Kim

Michelle hopes to do a rural placement in the future, and ultimately aims to emulate the work of the surgeons who helped her mother. “It was the doctors who helped Mum who inspired me to study medicine, and ultimately my goal is to get into surgery.”

Michelle was humbled by the generosity of the Class of 66 and says she too would like to give back one day. “This scholarship speaks volumes about the kind of support systems we have at UQ. I would like to be able to help other students with a similar scholarship in the future.”

Michelle with other members of the Australian Medical Students' Association