After graduating from ACG Parnell College in 2018, the next stop on alumnus, Alex Pentchev’s educational journey was the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Sydney.
With him, he took the distinction of being an ACG Founders’ Scholarship recipient. This award, valued at up to $75,000 not only recognises outstanding academic ability, but personal qualities for future success such as integrity, leadership, boldness of vision, drive, energy, and work ethic.
Those same qualities continued to develop and strengthen during Alex’s first year of his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine degree, as he achieved a quite spectacular High Distinction grade across every paper and received the University of Sydney 2019 Academic Merit Prize. This accolade is presented to the best-performing students across the entire undergraduate cohort (which number around 35,000). Plus, the dedicated undergrad was also awarded the Dean’s List of Excellence in Academic Performance for 2019, adding yet another feather to his already well-decorated cap.
Extremely pleased with his results to date, Alex believes the lessons learned at ACG Parnell College have prepared him well for university life.
“The most important thing I gained from my time at ACG was learning how to study. Although this may seem quite trivial, it is an extremely important skill to have at university and can be applied to many different situations. This skill takes years to develop, and ACG provided the perfect environment for me to discover the most effective way I study,” he explains.
“For the first year, the workload wasn’t much more challenging than doing my A-Levels at ACG Parnell. However, there was a significant step up upon entering my second year, where content is much more specialised.”
Alex had always planned to attend university overseas, and the appeal of living in a new country while studying at a highly ranked university made the University of Sydney an obvious choice.
“I have really enjoyed my time in Sydney so far; it’s great to have this completely different life away from New Zealand. The city and the university are incredible, and I am extremely happy with my decision to study there.
“The best thing about the university is its focus on research. Although learning the content is the primary concern, courses really try to integrate research through both the theory and practical components of the units, which greatly enhances the learning experience.”
Transitioning into a new independent phase of life always offers a range of challenges and experiences, however, and Alex has embraced the autonomy of self-reliance wholeheartedly.
“Although I am in student accommodation, it is quite like living in an apartment, where I have full responsibility for my wellbeing. I quickly learnt never to take clean clothes and warm meals for granted. Fortunately, I was able to figure out how to keep myself alive eventually and planning study around cooking dinner became a part of life.
“I have particularly enjoyed the independence it provides along with all the opportunities to make friends from around the world. And I must also acknowledge how beneficial it was to have close friends in Sydney from ACG Parnell, which made the transition process much easier.”
Enjoying the social aspects of university life, Alex has found joining societies to be an integral part of easing into his new routine in Sydney.
“I became a regular member of the Kiwi Society, the Combined Medicine Association and my personal favourite, the University of Sydney Social Soccer Society. Their events added variety to my schedule, provided me with great friends and most importantly, kept me sane during my studies.”
While Alex’s current goals focus on maintaining his grades at a high level and continuing his involvement in societies, his plans include a career in the sciences.
“The current degree I am studying sets me on a pathway to becoming a doctor in the future. However, whether I am a doctor, a medical researcher or something different, I know for certain my job will involve science.”
And his advice for ACG students looking to follow in his footsteps?
“Start planning as early as possible. The more time you have to sort out your subjects and extracurriculars, the better your chances of being accepted. Of course, it is extremely difficult to know which institution you will attend, especially when you are still uncertain of what subject you want to study, but having a general idea of the requirements will make the process much more stress-free.”