Determined student raises $70,000 in just 31 days

MEDICAL MISSION: John Lee, of Totara Vale, raised $70,000 in 31 days to cover the first year of his study at medical school.
MEDICAL MISSION: John Lee, of Totara Vale, raised $70,000 in 31 days to cover the first year of his study at medical school.

A 22-year-old has raised $70,000 in donations in just a month to cement his place in medical school.

It took John Lee 31 days to raise the cash, using Facebook and word-of-mouth to spread the message to his community.

"It's incredible. I've already had people say ‘if you can do that, I can reach my goals'."

The Totara Vale resident was accepted into the University of Auckland's medical school late last year as an international student despite living in New Zealand since 2006.

The South Korean-born student does not have permanent residency so the fee for one year of study is significantly higher than those faced by domestic students who can also get loans from the Government.

The fees will drop to $13,000 a year if he gains residency.

John says raising $70,000 in a month is a hard task for any family.

He has tutored up to 15 students every week for the last five years to pay his own way through his current degree.

No scholarships were available to him and the deadline was February 20.

It was not until the final three days before the tuition fee deadline that doubt began to creep up.

"Then I was really depressed. I was like ‘woah it might not actually happen."

Half of the funds came from donations and the other half in interest-free loans from family friends, John says.

The Korean community also came to the party after a story about John featured in the North Shore Times last month.

Without the money John would have lost his place and would have to apply again

after two or three more years of study.

But once he hit his goal and paid the university, he "just couldn't believe it".

"I can't describe that feeling."

The Rosmini College alumni plans to continue tutoring students while he is studying.

John had his first day of medical school on February 25, feeling overwhelmed and excited.

And it's thanks to friends, family and even strangers that he's there.

"There's nothing impossible if you keep the faith."

He says the success of his fundraising shows becoming an orthopaedic surgeon is what he is destined to do.

John is thankful to everyone who helped, and plans to repay the community by becoming a fully-qualified doctor.

Go to to follow John's studies.

North Shore Times