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Dr Soares sets up medical school scholarship

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Personal experience: Dr JJ Soares

A physician is to launch a medical school scholarship for Bermudian students.

JJ Soares, who runs Hamilton Medical Centre, told The Royal Gazette his own humble background inspired him to set up the $10,000-a-year fund.

“I didn’t come from a rich family; my dad was a taxi driver,” he said. “I have been the beneficiary of a lot of scholarships. There is no way I could have afforded university or medical school without it. I did 11 or 12 years of education. My parents paid for the first year and after that I was on my own. I got the Nicholl and Rhodes scholarships and the Sir Dudley Spurling Scholarship. It made it possible.”

Dr Soares studied medicine at Oxford University after winning the prestigious Rhodes scholarship for international postgraduate students. He went on to practise medicine in the UK, Brazil and Australia, before returning to the Island and setting up his own clinic in 1999.

The GP said many of the Island’s scholarships were for undergraduates and he wanted to ensure those training to become doctors after their bachelor’s degrees had the opportunity to get financial help. He will begin accepting applications for the Dr JJ Soares Scholarship early next year and will be looking for Bermudian students who have been accepted into an accredited medical school.

“I want to let people know it’s in the pipeline just so they can plan ahead and know it’s coming,” said Dr Soares. “Every year I’d award one for three years or until the termination of medical school.

“We’ll have a scholarship committee and we’ll identify candidates and invite people for interview and decide from there. They’ll need to show proof of grades. I plan to do this forever. I plan to set it up so it perpetuates itself.”

Former Premier Ewart Brown has been awarding scholarships to the medical school at Howard University, his alma mater, for more than 30 years. The annual cash award is for $25,0000.

• For more information on the Dr JJ Soares Scholarship call Hamilton Medical Centre on 495-5745.

Dr JJ Soares (Photograph by Akil Simmons)