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Dr Jessica King becomes ANU's first Aboriginal medical school graduate

In her career as a doctor Jessica King will be called on to provide a second opinion at some stage – and she'll understand why.

It was the second opinion of a school guidance counsellor that changed the course of her life and lead to her becoming the first Aboriginal medical student to graduate from the Australian National University Medical School on Wednesday.

Heart: Dr Jessica King, the first Aboriginal graduate of the ANU Medical School, celebrates with her proud mother Dr ...
Heart: Dr Jessica King, the first Aboriginal graduate of the ANU Medical School, celebrates with her proud mother Dr Christine Fejo-King.  Photo: Jamila Toderas

Dr King graduated with a Doctor of Medicine and Surgery, the school's premier four-year post graduate program.

Her proud mother Dr Christine Fejo-King recalled how her daughter's first high school counsellor in Darwin had told her to become a cleaner. They changed schools soon after.

The counsellor at the new school had a decidedly different attitude. After Ms King won school biology awards, this counseller said, "You have the brains … have you thought about medicine?" 

Dr Fejo-King said, "It tells all the other Aboriginal kids that you can have a dream." 

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Dr King continued her interest in biology as an undergraduate science student at ANU after the family moved from Darwin to Canberra when she was 18, following this up with her medical studies.

Her plan is to eventually become a rural doctor. "My heart is in the country," she said.

This plan solidified in Dr King's mind after her placement in Young last year. "It was a marvellous experience," she said.

She loved the experience so much she went back for another short placement this year. This time she helped deliver newborns.

"It was a lot of fun," she said.

Dr King will start work as an intern at Canberra Hospital in January, 2015 before pursuing her rural dreams.

The ANU Medical School's graduating students had their ceremony at Lleyellyn Hall on Wednesday. The school was formed in 2002, after many successful affiliations with medical schools at other universities.

More than 3400 students will have graduated from ANU by the end this week, 2252 of attending their ceremonies.