Excelling despite adversity2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Vanisi Prescott’s journey to become a doctor is proof that anything can be achieved if you put your mind to it. She shares her inspiring story to encourage others to dream big.
Vanisi was born in Tonga, and moved to Auckland at the age of one. She started Year 9 at Onehunga High School, where she was placed in the Learning Assistance Class. Vanisi studied hard to excel and move classes, and she particularly remembers teachers, Mr Baledrokadroka, Mr Drumm, Mr Brian and Mrs Everest, who all helped keep her on track. Her perseverance paid off, and she received 13 awards at the school’s end of year prizegiving.
Her path from there was not a smooth one. From the age of 14 she held part-time jobs to support her family, working through high school and University to help make ends meet. Sadly, her grandfather passed away during her first year at University, which deeply affected her. In her second year of Medical School, she became pregnant and sat her exams seven months pregnant. Her daughter was born the following January, and the new mother returned to study only weeks later in March. After graduating in 2013, Vanisi completed three years as a House Officer and another three years in Urgent Care.
Despite all the obstacles, Vanisi credits the experiences for building her strength and resilience. She is currently in her third year of GP training, and loving it. “Strong family support and prayers were my saving grace. My mother was a single parent who worked three jobs to support us. I saw how hard her life was, and the sacrifices she made to provide. This was my motivation, so I was so determined to make a better life for us and make her proud.”
Today, Vanisi is a happily married mother of three. She has a keen interest in the health of the Pasifika community, and hopes her story will inspire others to chase their dreams and never give up hope. “My advice for anyone out there wanting to pursue a career in Medicine is to be prepared to make sacrifices, and work extremely hard. It’s very important to always have a positive mindset – don’t let anyone stop you. If I can achieve it, you can too. I started in the Learning Assistance Class back in high school, and look where I am now.”