Admissions Blog

By: Maria Noviani 
Duke-NUS M.D. Class of 2016

The Insider: Maria is an academically outstanding student. Her achievements include the Feng Pao Shii Award 2014, Goh Foundation Research Award 2014/2015, American Heart Association Scholarship in Cardiovascular Disease 2014 and Best Oral Presentation Award at the 2015 ISERD International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences in Singapore. In addition to her sterling performance in her studies, Maria is deeply committed to serving those in need.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

The three things I want to achieve in my life are…

1) Contribute to the wellbeing of the less privileged in my society,
2) Improve the health of my community by serving as a clinician, and
3) Advance medical treatments through translational research work.

I grew up in Indonesia, where approximately half of all households live around the national poverty line set at $24.40/month, according to the World Bank Report 2015. Having witnessed many harsh living conditions and struggles first-hand, I appreciate what I have even more – a supportive family, good health and better education opportunities. This sense of gratitude has led me to start paying it forward since I was in high school.

Together with my fellow church members, I went to rural parts of Indonesia to teach primary school children. Having seen the positive impact of our services to the community, I was reminded that true happiness comes from serving others. Hence, I became more motivated to seek opportunities to serve locally and globally throughout my academic life.

People often ask how I manage to juggle between academic and community services. The answers is simple: good time management and discipline! For instance, if I could save 30 minutes a day, I could accumulate 182 hours a year, an equivalent to 26 seven-hour workdays, which can go towards meaningful work and contributions to our society.

(Left to Right): Volunteering in Cambodia and Indonesia

During my undergraduate studies, I went to rural Cambodia to teach English to primary school children. I learned that they were smart and hard-working children with big dreams and potential. If they have the same resources and opportunities like us, they would have the means to be equally successful and contribute more to their society. Thus, I was strongly drawn to continue serving them. Because of my medical training and interests, I decided to focus my voluntary and community service work in medically-related areas.

Serving the children and youths of Las Mercedes, Honduras

Some of the key healthcare challenges for the less privileged was the access to proper and timely services.  To help address these issues, I joined the HealthServe Clinic team, which provides affordable medical service to low-income individuals, migrants, sex workers, and domestic helpers in Singapore.  In addition, I also took up opportunities to serve overseas by providing free health screening services in rural areas of Indonesia and Honduras.  

These voluntary work, together with other community service projects in Duke-NUS, made me realised that I had received more that I had given. The people whom I served had taught me valuable life lessons of resilience. 

In my journey to becoming a clinician scientist, there have been many ups and downs - heavy academic workload, personal struggles as well as coping with terminal illnesses in the family. They have made me stronger, more mature and determined. 

The continuous support throughout my journey has also been instrumental to my evolvement, and I would love to credit my family, friends and inspiring mentors, including Dr. Julian Thumboo, Dr. Andrea Low, Dr. Katy Leung, Dr. Leong Keng Hong and Dr. Hardean Achneck. One day, I hope I can contribute back to society, especially the less privileged, as a clinician scientist.