Outstanding Leadership Potential

Dr Garang Dut receives Roth/Segal John Monash Scholarship

Dr Garang Dut with Mr John Roth. John Roth and Jillian Segal support the “Roth/Segal John Monash Harvard Scholarship” (Photograph by Giselle Haber)

The Melbourne Medical School was delighted to congratulate Dr Garang Dut (MD 2014) on receiving the prestigious Roth/Segal John Monash Harvard Scholarship to support his postgraduate studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

John Monash Scholarships are awarded to Australians who demonstrate leadership potential, providing them with support for postgraduate studies at prestigious universities around the world. They are among the most important postgraduate scholarships available in Australia.

Dr Dut was the first African refugee to enrol in Medicine at the University of Melbourne. This scholarship adds to Dr Dut's long list of extraordinary achievements.

Around 400 applicants were interviewed but only 20 received a scholarship. “I was fortunate to be among the 20,” he says, with characteristic humility. When you hear his story it is clear that it was not a matter of fortune but recognition of his significant accomplishments since arriving in Australia.

Born in South Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War, Dr Dut and his family fled to Ethiopia, where they lived until a military coup ousted the Government. They returned to South Sudan then resettled in a newly established refugee camp in Kenya. Dr Dut spent the rest of his childhood and much of his teenage years in that camp, a total of 12 years.

“I learnt English in the refugee camp. They ran classes in English and also in Swahili and we wrote essays in both languages.”

Dr Dut and his fellow students at the NGO-run school had to compete against other Kenyan schools for high school positions. Fortunately he succeeded in the national exam and received a place and a scholarship.

With his mother and siblings, Dr Dut immigrated to Australia when he was 17. He started VCE without any preparation or the required computer skills. Advised against ‘difficult’ subjects,
Dr Dut needed to convince teachers he was capable of studying advanced maths and science. He is concerned about other refugees who might not challenge such advice and who remain pigeon-holed by their disadvantaged background.

“I fear that some students in my situation wouldn’t insist they were capable, and that they will miss out on opportunities as a result.”

During Year 12, Dr Dut’s academic excellence was recognised with the prestigious Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholars Award, which involved various academic enrichment programs at the University of Melbourne. He went on to complete two of the most difficult degrees—Biomedical Science at Monash University and Medicine at the University of Melbourne.

He joined the inaugural Melbourne Medical School Student Ambassador Program during the 150th Anniversary year and was awarded two scholarships—the VMIAL-PSA Medical and Dental Scholarship, a residential scholarship at Ormond College which also covered Dr Dut’s studies, and the John Manson Scholarship which he used to travel to India.

“I had spent the first two months of medical school looking for a house, so it was great to go to Ormond College on the scholarship.”

Influenced by his experience living in refugee camps where resources were scarce, Dr Dut travelled to India to broaden his knowledge and experience in global health challenges faced
by other nations.

“I trained at one of the most technology-intensive hospitals in Melbourne so I was keen to find out how quality care could still be delivered where these techniques might not be used.”

Now, Dr Dut is practising a combination of plastic surgery, burns, and facial maxillary surgery at the Alfred Hospital and is involved in research at the National Trauma Research Institute. He is also a Fellow of the Williamson Community Leadership Program, an advisor to Cancer Council Victoria, a contributor to the SBS multilingual radio service, an Australia Day Ambassador for the last four years, and has worked with Change Australia.

The Roth/Segal John Monash Scholarship will see Dr Dut
study a Master of Global Health at Harvard, which he will commence in July.