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U.K.’s iconic Cambridge calls to highly touted Vancouver Island high school student

Saanich teen Dave Duru one of 22 international students accepted for unique medicine program
St. Michaels University School student Dave Duru hopes to study medicine at Cambridge University in the U.K., which has accepted him into its direct-entry medicine program. (Courtesy SMUS)

A young man with a passion for science and what makes the body tick is charting a course for the U.K., having been accepted into prestigious Cambridge University to begin direct-entry medicine studies this fall.

Dave Duru, winding up his Grade 12 year at St. Michaels University School (SMUS), was offered a seat in the program at the iconic British institution after averaging in the high 90s in his Grade 11 and 12 classes at SMUS. The 18-year-old scholar is one of just 22 international students to be accepted this fall into the intensive six-year program, which provides a more direct pathway to medical school.

Acceptance into the exclusive program has him excited to learn about various areas of medicine along the way, rather than waiting until he finishes a degree to decide on a specialty.

”Cambridge has such a vast array of professors who specialize in all these areas,” he told Black Press Media. Of the multiple schools offering entry – Ivy League members Cornell and Brown were among the others – he felt Cambridge gave him the best opportunity to more quickly determine where his medical interests lie.

Interest in medicine runs in Duru’s family, most of whom live in Saanich. His mother is a psychiatrist at Royal Jubilee Hospital, while his father works for a pharmaceutical company based in the family’s ancestral home of Nigeria. Younger sister Chioma, a Grade 10 SMUS student, and older brother Elvis, in his fourth year at Queen’s University in Kingston, also have a desire to pursue some area of medicine, Dave said.

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Duru has another primary inspiration, however.

“First and foremost it was the impact of diabetes, which is prevalent in my family,” he said. “I’ve always believed through being a doctor I’d have the ability to care for my loved ones and others who have similar diseases.”

His keen interest in biology and chemistry began back in Grade 9, not long after he and his family emigrated from his birthplace of Dublin, Ireland.

Duru is a product of SMUS’ advanced placement program, designed to give a leg up to students applying for sought-after university programs. He excelled in all of his AP classes, and was helped through the intense application process by university counsellor Megan Parry.

“Dave is a special person. Personally driven, he is always respectful to others, modeling our school values in all that he does,” she said in a release. “I grew to admire him enormously as we worked together … Cambridge will be lucky to have him and we are excited to see what his future holds.”

Duru gave kudos to Parry and his family for believing in him and encouraging him to strive for acceptance into his program of choice, albeit one with a low acceptance rate.

He knows living abroad to pursue his studies will be quite a transition from living in Greater Victoria. But his feelings about the change lean more toward anticipation than nervousness.

“It’s a little bit scary, but I’m not one that fears change too much. I was more excited to come to Victoria (at 13) than I was upset about what I was leaving behind. I’m just optimistic and focused on the future.”

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