From looted Hackney to the lawns of privilege

* Michael Ha, left, and the Master of St John’s College. Photograph by permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

FROM HACKNEY to Cambridge is not far but for Michael Ha it has been a “fantastic journey”.

The son of migrants from China who endured great difficulty to reach this country and to become established in London has been hailed as the outstanding medical student of St John’s College, Cambridge.

He has won a major prize, and recently completed a research placement with Columbia University in New York, analysing how ultrasound can diagnostically map the topology of the eye.

Michael Ha was one of ten students from the first A-levels year at Mossbourne Community Academy to be offered places at Cambridge. It was also the year the borough suffered violence millions of pounds of damage during days of looting, a figuratively long way from the ancient East Anglican university and its overpowering air of privilege.

Having started his student life celebrated by the media as “the son of a Chinese immigrant labourer and a seamstress”, he knows the magnitude of the opportunity he has seized and is determined that other people from poor backgrounds will follow.

The 21-year-old says: “I am committed to encouraging teenagers from all sorts of backgrounds to consider applying to Cambridge”.

St John’s described Ha as an exceptionally high-achieving student, committed to encouraging other young people of all backgrounds to apply to Cambridge. As well as running a “medical school masterclass” for potential med. students, he was appointed Oxbridge Ambassador to the Hackney Access Initiative.

Ha plans to complete his clinical studies at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. Hackney’s loss is the world’s gain.

David Altheer 160714

* Top: Michael Ha, left, with Professor Christopher Dobson, Master of St John’s College. Pic by permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

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