The Academic Excellence Scholarships Recognising Outstanding Performance in Undergraduate Studies were established to reward hard work, persistence and dedication to academic excellence. In this ‘Meet the Scholar’ series we will introduce you to those undergraduate students who are the 2020 recipients of this generous scholarship. Are you ready to be inspired?

What program are you studying?
Bachelor of Medicine (B. Med)
What year of study are you in?
Year 5 (Final year)
image of Riashad Monjur
What did you feel when you heard you were the recipient of the Academic Excellence Scholarships Recognising Outstanding Performance in Undergraduate Studies?

I was actually overseas at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom on a medical elective at the time so it was an incredible surprise when I received an email from the scholarship office informing me of this award. I was incredibly excited and I immediately called my parents to share in the excitement!

What do you think are the personal qualities that have contributed to your academic achievements?
The fundamental quality that has probably contributed to my academic achievements so far is my drive to constantly improve myself whether that be personally or professionally. This requires a healthy dose of discipline (spread across hours of procrastination!), a genuine interest in what you are working on/studying and having a life outside working/studying that works for you.
How do you motivate yourself towards your studies?
I enjoy learning new things and fortunately, my degree has provided plenty of intellectual stimulus over the last 4 years and I hope for a career that will continue to provide that. This does not mean I naturally ‘want’ to study. It is usually a struggle getting started but I remind myself that in order to be a good clinician providing excellent care to patients, I need to have a sound grasp of the content (no matter how ‘dry’ it might be) and be able to put it into practice. It also helps to have a really close study friend with similar ambitions to you so you can motivate each other (especially on the lazy days!).
Who are your role models?
Professionally, the most important would definitely be my dad for showing me firsthand the results of 1) grit, 2) determination and 3) not being afraid of failure. I also have to mention my recent mentors in my clinical years at Gosford Hospital who have been excellent in encouraging me to be my best and being excellent examples for me to learn from. Special shout out to Elon Musk for making nothing seem too crazy!
What are your goals for the future?
Be a clinician who works at the grass-root level with patients while also being involved in large scale policy and systemic changes in healthcare.
What are three things you enjoy most about studying at the University of Newcastle?
1) I have found The University of Newcastle to put significant effort and resources into developing students to be leaders in their communities and not be defined by their degree/studies.
2) There is also significant emphasis on collaboration which discourages unhealthy competitiveness amongst students and encourages teamwork to create a more optimal learning environment.
3) The academics and mentors I have met during my time here have been excellent and are always happy to help.
What tips do you have for other students when it comes to excelling in their studies?

The first and most important thing is to establish a good support network of friends who study the same degree as you. This is especially important in your first year where it is easy to get lost in a new environment. Then, focus on constantly improving yourself no matter where you start from: 1) Get organised and schedule time to study into your daily routine (along with exercise + time for friends and family!); 2) Get advice from senior students who have done well in the course on how to approach the semester or a particular subject (what worked for them and what didn’t?); 3) Ask yourself why you’re learning a certain unit/subject and how it contributes to your career goals (this helped me in terms of motivation); 4) Enjoy university (including travelling overseas if you can)!

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