“After all I’d been through with cancer and the hours I put into volunteering I didn’t want to give up hope.” Kai Newton, Biomedicine, 2019

“The library really blew me away and the staff were very enthusiastic and welcoming. Hull was also very welcoming. Coming from London when my parents first came to visit they were dumbfounded by the openness and friendliness of the local residents.”

Kai Newton, Biomedicine, 2019
Kai working in the hospital (left), and graduating with a First (right)

They’re not the easiest people to be interviewed by, but Good Morning Britain hosts Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan were certainly impressed by Kai Newton. Knowing that the COVID wards in his hospital were short-staffed and their patients in need of help and support, the 2019 University of Hull Biomedicine graduate put himself forward.

“I felt bad for these patients,” he told viewers. “It kind of reminded me of the time I was in hospital. Except with the COVID parents, they’re not allowed to see their friends or family. I always imagine if my parents were in that situation, how would I feel?”

Having overcome a lot of challenges himself, Kai’s selflessness in service of others is only part of his remarkable story. After recovering from a brain tumour at an early age, Kai had to contend with memory issues associated with his illness as continued his studies in a school were many of the students failed exams. He was accepted for the Hull Biomedicine course through clearing and took the opportunity with both hands, eventually graduating with a First Class Honours Degree. After the summer he will be going to Medical School in Aberdeen.

We wanted to interview Kai to find out more about a remarkable member of the Hull Alumni Community, and to inspire those who may be going through the clearing system this summer.

“Piers Morgan loved the story and wanted it to be aired on live TV,” says Kai of his appearance on Good Morning Britain. It started after I posted my photo dressed in PPE. I was contacted by the teenage cancer charity that I am a part of, Teens Unite Fighting Cancer. They asked for an update about what it was like working on a COVID-19 ward and also my recent admission to medical school and graduating from the University of Hull with a 1st class honours. I sent them everything I’ve been through recently and the Co-CEO Debbie Pezzani sent the story to Piers.”

And it is easy to see why Piers was interested in Kai’s story.

“I knew I wanted to get into medicine from the age of 14. However, after attending one of the worse performing secondary schools GCSEs didnt go to plan as expected. Additionally, I then found the step up from GCSEs to A levels particularly tricky. As a result I didn’t achieve the A levels necessary for applying to medical school finishing with 3 Cs in biology, Chemistry and Maths. After all I’d been through with cancer and the hours I put into volunteering I didn’t want to give up hope. So I got into Hull from clearing to study biomedical science.

“I got an immense amount of support from the staff at the University of Hull. I attended a neurosurgerical medical talk at the Allam Medical Building, primarily aimed at the medical students at the Hull-York medical school hosted by Dr George Spink. After attending the talk he found out me and a couple of friends were studying biomedical science and he straight away offered us a week shadowing placement. This really helped enhance my application alongside the help I got from the support hub where I got countless mock interviews and feedback from the staff. Moreover, I got a tonne of support from so many staff with my personal statement for medical school especially from my haematology lecturer Sean Frost. I’m grateful for what all the staff did to help me achieve my dreams. I then took a gap year due to not getting into medical school in my final year and worked at Kings College Hospital.”

Kai with his family at graduation

Kai came to Hull through the clearing system, and his words of advice for students applying through clearing were featured in an article in the Guardian.

“There’s something very exciting about changing your plans. On results day, I didn’t think about the negatives. I focused on my future. I talked to teachers who confirmed I was making good choices. I looked up universities on Unistats, then did more research to get a feel for their entry requirements, and how life would be on campus. I found out about extra opportunities on offer as well as the module specifics. Making the call to Hull was stress-free and staff were welcoming. There are always different routes to reach your end goal and these bring benefits you could never have predicted. I think I’m now more determined and independent.”

Having achieved so much already, Kai isn’t resting on his laurels and has big plans.

“In the next 5 years I’d like to have graduated with flying colours at from medical school with a research paper to my name and starting my Foundation year as a doctor at a top hospital in the city.”

We’re wishing Kai all the best, and are sure that with his dedication and application he will achieve everything he sets out to.

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