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Victoria Berquist

2015 Recipient

I've had the most phenomenal experience meeting, brainstorming, and working with BCGers. BCG is a center for excellence in terms of its people, its work, and its ethos and culture. I've been challenged, inspired, and—most of all—had an incredible time.

Victoria

Q&A

Q: Tell us about your education background and what led you to pursue your degree?

A: I’m currently taking a year off from my bachelor of medicine/surgery degree at Monash University to undertake a bachelor of medical science (honors) to research the interrelationships between the HIV virus, periodontal disease, and cardiovascular disease.

After graduating from high school in Brisbane, I was attracted to medicine as a degree that allows you to create a meaningful impact for many people. It is also a career pathway that is particularly challenging and involves continual learning. I chose HIV as my area for medical research because the medical, social, and economic impact of HIV and other major communicable diseases is something I am very interested in and hope to address from many viewpoints throughout my career.

Q: What is your passion outside of your studies?

A: I currently serve as president of the Monash University Undergraduates Medical Society, which involves grassroots advocacy, places me on the Victorian AMA Council and the Doctors in Training subdivision, and has led to policy work for the Australian Medical Students' Association. I've also been involved with developing policy and organizational improvements within the national association following news of bullying and harassment within medicine.

I'm passionate about mental health and co-led a three-day international workshop in Taipei with the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations. I've also helped produce an international mental health program for implementation in 120+ member countries. My BCG Scholarship will allow me to present this program at the next meeting in Macedonia and work on skill-building workshops with the international delegates. When I'm not working, I love food and drawing. I used to draw comics about my more entertaining clinical experiences, which a major medical textbook publisher started to commission!

Q: What achievement are you most proud of?

A: It's hard to put a finger on what I'm most proud of, but I'm incredibly proud of what my medical society achieves every day. There are over 50 volunteers on the central committee and many more working to run 100-plus events a year—from the medical ball, revue, and orchestra to surgical skills workshops, weekly academic revision lectures, and community projects such as the Teddy Bear Hospital for primary school students. We have engaged hard-working and smart volunteers who give their time for free to help invigorate and enrich their community, and I'm consistently amazed by what they achieve. I'm also honored to work with an amazing executive team that helps to lead and make it all happen, and that I love working and simply spending time with.

Q: What difference will the BCG Scholarship make?

A: The BCG Scholarship will make a huge difference in the opportunities I have over the next few years. I'm hoping to spend the summer in Geneva with the WHO, or in Canberra with the government, or even traveling and enjoying the last of my long summers. Next year, I can explore my interests with a medical elective, and I’m hoping to go to King's College in London and to the Northern Territory. I intend to make the most of what my scholarship offers; it will definitely make a huge difference to my time!

Q: What does being associated with BCG mean for you?

A: I've had the most phenomenal experience meeting, brainstorming, and working with BCGers. BCG is a center for excellence in terms of its people, its work, and its ethos and culture. To be a part of this, now and in the future, is an incredible privilege. I've been challenged, inspired, and—most of all—had an incredible time. I'm proud to be associated with it.

Q: Where does your future lie?

A: I'm a little overwhelmed by the opportunities I've been afforded through my education and through BCG—both will help me to have an impact in health care and lead to change working with governments, IGOs, and NGOs and within health care reform in developed countries. While it feels as if I want to have it all at the moment, I plan to make the most of the opportunities I've been presented with and see where they take me.

Q: What do most people not know about you?

A: I'm not allowed pets in my apartment, so I take very good care of a succulent as an outlet for that! I work casually as an administrative assistant to pay for my love of brunch, and excellent food is one of the things I love about Melbourne. I've also spent a summer making enrichment equipment for orangutans in Malaysia with a friend who is a veterinarian.

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