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Sister's health battle drives top scholar

February 16, 2021

Claire Dooley is studying biomedical science at Bond University after receiving a Vice Chancellor's Elite Scholarship - all while hoping to represent Ireland in mogul skiing at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

by Jessica Borten

An international quest to treat her sister’s brain tumour has inspired Claire Dooley to study biomedical science at Bond University.

Ms Dooley, of New Farm in Brisbane, received the University’s top scholarship, the fully-paid Vice Chancellor’s Elite Scholarship.

Along the way she hopes to represent Ireland in mogul skiing at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“My younger sister Catherine was diagnosed with a brain tumour that couldn’t be treated in Australia and, later in her life, a neurological condition that required complicated surgery,” Ms Dooley said.

“Both the lifesaving treatments she required have been pioneered in Boston hospitals, so our family has spent a great deal of time travelling back and forth there. 

“I became fascinated by the work and research that my sister’s specialists were doing and the passion they showed for their patients.

“I was beginning to recognise that medicine was possibly the career path for me.”

Ms Dooley enquired about work experience at the Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospital, Massachusetts General in Boston, thinking “it doesn’t hurt to ask”.

“I wanted to experience what being a doctor could be like,” she said.

“I sent an email with my resume and the next month I had an application form from Harvard’s student medical intern program in my inbox.”

Ms Dooley’s experience in Boston cemented her decision to study medicine.

“The student shadowing program at Harvard’s teaching hospital was beyond anything I could have imagined,” she said.

“My experience led me to appreciate the importance of collaboration of different health science specialities and the power that this collaboration has in saving lives.”

The Somerville House graduate is a dual citizen of Australia and Ireland and hopes to represent the latter in mogul skiing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“It’s a highly technical sport that is infinitely challenging, and I love that,” Ms Dooley said.

“I am passionate about mogul skiing and achieving my athletic benchmarks, but ultimately, my overarching goal is to have a long-term career in medicine where I can have a hand in making a difference.”

Ms Dooley is one of nine students from around Australia to receive Vice Chancellor’s Elite Scholarships to Bond University in 2021.

Selection criteria recognises not just academic achievement but also extra-curricular involvement and contribution to the wider community.