Meet 2023 Andrew’s Scholar Kokulaan Santhakumar. Kokulaan (Fr 2023) is studying a Doctor of Medicine at Western Sydney University.
Kokulaan moved to Western Sydney from France when he was three years old, and he has lived there ever since. He attended Penrith Selective High School where he was School Captain in 2021.
We caught up with Kokulaan to find out more about him.
What are some of your hobbies, skills and achievements?
Being the first Student Ambassador for The Push-Up Challenge, and raising $55,801 for Headspace and Lifeline Australia, I was featured on Channel 7’s ‘Sunrise’, speaking about the importance of early intervention of mental ill-health in schools. Last year I took a gap year, where I did a medical internship with the West Tigers and then overseas in Tanzania. In the meantime, I also commenced work as a Policy Assistant for Melissa McIntosh MP, Member for Lindsay, and have now moved on to be the Research Adviser & Speechwriter for Alex Hawke MP, Member for Mitchell. Regarding sports, I play in the Vawdon Cup for the Penrith Panthers and am Captain for the U21 Premier League side, Blacktown Premier Spurs.
What made you choose St Andrew’s College?
College wasn’t pushed at school, and I didn’t have it on my radar until I looked at it online and saw the extent of various extracurricular options offered, which simply aren’t available in normal university life. Being curious, I did the winter course offered by the College last year, and it showed me how supportive and vibrant the community really is, something reminiscent of the comradery at school, which I enjoyed.
What does being at St Andrew’s Scholar mean to you?
Well, it’s an opportunity to attend College that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to coming from a lower socio-economic household. Being a Scholar means I don’t have to worry about finances and can focus on getting on top of my degree and extracurricular life. It has provided me with an opportunity to learn from the people around me and grow myself, which I’m very grateful for.
How has your experience of university been impacted by this scholarship?
Although the travel to Campbelltown for university is far, the scholarship allows me to be in a supportive environment where everyone builds on each other and encourages one another to stay accountable. Study groups with people doing similar degrees at other universities also gave me a better understanding of many concepts as I can see an idea taught in many different ways.
What activities have you been involved with since moving to college?
I love getting around our Rawson and Rosebowl competitions. St Andrew’s College has a long list of sports accolades, built by the supportive culture of everyone getting behind each other in the crowd, and although it’s only a small action, it has an immense impact when everyone is united.
What are you looking forward to at Drew’s in the upcoming year?
Being selected for the Rawson football team, I’m eager to represent the college again in the intercollegiate competition. I’m also looking forward to further connecting with students in other year groups because there are so many students with such different life experiences attending from all over the world.
What has been your favourite memory at College so far?
The Highland Ball was quite an iconic night. Connecting with peers and alumni was a wholesome experience, and hearing about everyone’s college experience and navigating life along with their studies was encouraging. But holistically, connecting with people of different backgrounds and experiences has by far been the greatest aspect of the experience, as I have made many lifelong mates.
Do you have any advice for students considering applying to Drew’s next year?
Going into College, I didn’t know a single person, and it did make me feel a bit on the edge at the start, but don’t let that throw you off. You will make lifelong friends, and it’s an experience you will go on to remember for decades. It’s not just another place for accommodation, it’s an opportunity to connect with new people, find new hobbies and grow as an individual – I promise it’ll be well worth it!