Eugene Michael, who has strong links to Te Tai Tokerau, is one of two exceptional Maori scholars to receive a prestigious scholarship out of 623 applicants nationally.
Every year, a select group of applicants to the Ministry of Health's Hauora Maori scholarship programme are awarded a John McLeod Scholarship or Te Apa Mareikura Award.
This year two scholars from The University of Auckland Eugene Michael - Ngati Kahu, Ngati Tuwharetoa - and Reuben Kirk - Ngai Tuhoe - were each awarded a John McLeod scholarship, worth $10,000.
These scholarships are named for Dr John McLeod, nationally and internationally renown for his work in public and Maori health, and presented to high academic achievers who also show selfless commitment to their colleagues and communities.
Eugene Michael has completed his sixth year of study for a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery and started work at Auckland District Health Board.
Already a qualified pharmacist, having completed a Bachelor of Pharmacy at Otago University in 2003, Eugene's work in South Auckland communities inspired him to rethink his career choice and study medicine.
In 2009 he won the Senior Prize in Medicine and Surgery and in 2011 he won the Calvin Ring Prize in Ophthalmology, both at The University of Auckland while maintaining an A/A- average throughout.
Between 2005 and 2007 Eugene worked in a pharmacy in South Auckland, implementing initiatives to improve health outcomes for local Maori and Pacific Island patients and mentoring fellow staff on cultural competency.
As a pharmacist manager Eugene added business management, accounting and staff management to his skills.
Eugene intends to work in a community setting and he frequently looks to the Far North where there is a high demand for general practitioners and where many of his whanau reside.
His hope is that wherever he is he will ultimately be able to implement health initiatives that benefit Maori.
He says it is important to demonstrate leadership skills as a health professional, in order to build rapport and trust in those who seek advice.
He regards academic achievement, empathy and communication skills as fundamental to building the foundation for leadership in Maori health.
- © Fairfax NZ News