A first-year medical student at The University of Western Australia has won a prestigious national medical scholarship.
Gemma Johnston, 21, was today awarded the AMA (Australian Medical Association) Indigenous Peoples' Medical Scholarship by AMA President Rosanna Capolingua.
Ms Johnston, who was born in Darwin but grew up in Perth, is passionate about improving health in remote communities and plans to specialise in ophthalmology or obstetrics.
"I'm really keen to go and work in remote communities in the Top End - I still have family in the Katherine River region," she said.
The former Methodist Ladies' College student said she had always wanted to study medicine but didn't believe she had the ability. She did one year of a Bachelor of Conservation Biology and Land Management at UWA before taking a year off.
"When I came back I talked to the people at the School of Indigenous Studies and they asked me if I'd be interested in studying medicine, so I switched courses," Ms Johnston said.
Valued at $9,000 for each year of study, the scholarship provides support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying medicine. The scholarship was established in 1995 with the help of the Department of Health and Ageing.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the university had a strong commitment to increasing participation rates of Indigenous people in higher education.
"Last year we were delighted to see four Indigenous students graduate in medicine from UWA - the highest number of Indigenous medical graduates in a single year," Professor Robson said.
Gemma Johnston 0409 200 637
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) 61 8 6488 5563 / 0432 637 716
Kylie Walker (AMA) 02 6270 5471 / 0405 229 152