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Rhyl Student Who Worked Alongside Surgeons in the Philippines in his Gap Year…Now Training to be a Doctor!

A teenage Rhyl Sixth student, who spent part of his gap year working alongside surgeons in a district hospital in the Philippines, has just started his training to be a doctor!

19-year-old Iarl Sapong from Rhyl, who is originally from the Philippines and was crowned Coleg Llandrillo's 'Student of the Year 2019' (Rhyl Sixth), has just commenced his studies in Medicine at Cardiff University.

In preparation for several medical interviews relating to university admission, Rhyl Sixth staff organised a mock interview for Iarl with a doctor (pre-Covid): Dr Laura Harrington at University College London.

After gaining an impressive suite of A-levels - Maths A*/Biology A/Chemistry A and Welsh Baccalaureate - Iarl (pronounced 'Earl) returned to Rhyl Sixth to complete an A-level in Further Maths…in one year!

During his gap year, to explore medicine further, Iarl initially shadowed a team of NHS doctors for a week. He said:

"I realised that an excellent bedside manner, together with compassion, were crucial. The doctor's empathy illuminated a dimly-lit room."

Following his stint with the NHS, and curious about the traits of doctors worldwide, he volunteered for a week in a district hospital in The Philippines. Iarl added:

"I eventually realised that medicine is all about sacrifice. Whilst there, analysing a kidney cross-section enabled me to utilise aspects of anatomy I had learned whilst studying for my A-levels at Rhyl Sixth."

He juggles his studies with part-time employment at McDonald's and volunteering at his local food bank. In his 'spare' time, Iarl loves playing guitar, and provides weekly music for Sunday mass, when not serving on the altar. He also teaches young high school students and has learned to play the piano to grade 5 standard.

Speaking about his time at Rhyl Sixth, Iarl said:

"Studying A-level Biology sharpened my analytical and data interpretation skills. Additionally, Chemistry honed my lateral thinking, whilst Maths pushed my logical abilities to make critical deductions. For my Welsh Baccalaureate project, I delved into cancer and treatments and treatments such as immunotherapy."

"I felt prepared for university life, the independence you learn during A-levels sticks. Upon graduation, I hope to specialise in a hospital setting. Time will tell if it is as a surgeon or physician. Alternatively, I may join the Navy as a medical officer."

"So, if you're reading this while picking a college / sixth form, I think that Rhyl Sixth has everything you need in one place. They've already sent many others to medical schools and Oxbridge!"

One of Iarl's tutors at the Rhyl Sixth, Andy Aitken, said:

Iarl was an extremely gifted, likeable and friendly member of the Rhyl Sixth cohort, and was awarded the title of Rhyl Sixth 'Student of the Year'. His desire to become a doctor is deeply rooted in his ability to combine his scientific understanding with clinical application. We wish him all the best in his future career.

For more information on A-level courses at Coleg Llandrillo's Rhyl Sixth Centre - which is situated on Coleg Llandrillo's Rhyl campus - contact the college on 01745 354 797.