This medical student from Barbados won two scholarships to study in Wales

medical student
Chantal Corbin secured the Barbados National Scholarship to study medicine abroad and has never looked back since. Source: Chantal Corbin

Parents can be positive role models for their children. For Barbados native Chantal Corbin, this much is true. From a young age, she was taught to make her own decisions and take control of her future. “I am very grateful to have supportive parents. They emphasised the importance of doing what interested me rather than choosing a career based on public perception,” Corbin tells Study International.

She decided to pursue medicine after personally experiencing the galvanising impact of good doctors and nurses. Today, the 22-year-old is a Bachelor of Medicine (MBBCh) student at Cardiff University.

Studying medicine can be stressful, but Corbin is resolute. Being raised by kind parents help. They often remind her it is okay to change directions if her passions change down the line. This eases the pressure a lot.

medical student

Corbin poses with a friend, Manisha, during a formal dinner and social held for third-year students at Cardiff University. Source: Chantal Corbin

From scholarship winner to medical student

Three years ago, Corbin scored the highest in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations — equivalent to A Levels in the UK and AP exams in the US — paving the way for her to win the prestigious Barbados National Scholarship. The award covers her full medical degree in Wales.

It was not easy to trade sunshine for higher education in wet and windy Wales, but no sacrifice was too great for the determined Barbadian. Corbin’s goals were ambitious — she wanted to “make an intimate impact one doctor-patient interaction at a time.” But first, she needed a good degree.

medical student

Corbin at the Cardiff City Football Stadium. Source: Chantal Corbin

No time to spare

Corbin is in her fourth year of medical school — with no signs of slowing down. She had just been re-elected as Academic Chair of the Cardiff University Medical Society (MedSoc), where she collaborates with academic representatives from each year to ensure student voices are heard.

She is also a part of the African Caribbean Medical Association (ACMA), a community of medical students at Cardiff University with African and Caribbean backgrounds and Students Save Lives, a trailblazing initiative aimed at reducing the rate of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests by teaching students skills that saves lives, literally.

“Given that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) students represent a small percentage of the cohorts each year, ACMA feels strongly about creating a sense of community and belonging to medical students,” Corbin explained. “Along with providing small group revision sessions, the society hosts educational and awareness events highlighting conditions which predominantly affect the BAME community.”

medical student

Corbin and a friend, Divya, wearing matching Mr. Claus shirts on Christmas during her first year at university. Source: Chantal Corbin

Winning not one, but two scholarships

As if winning one full-ride scholarship was not enough, Corbin bagged another this year. She was selected as a Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) scholar for her leadership abilities. The one-year programme helps develop and nurture healthcare leaders of the future through formal workshops that delve into the pillars of leadership, community activities, as well as projects that identify and resolve discrepancies in any aspect of the medical field.

Corbin is now working on her HLA project which will target medical students and foundation doctors. “Stay tuned for this. I also intend to continue my involvement in various societies which relate to my passions and interests. Of course, I have two more years until my graduation and I intend to continue working assiduously in my studies,” she said.

When Corbin — who is also a personal trainer — finds juggling everything a little too stressful, she hits the gym. “My advice for any student would be to find an activity that you can fully immerse yourself in, an activity that brings you joy and allows you to escape momentarily from the stresses and fast pace of this world,” she shared.

Asked whether she regretted packing her bags and studying abroad, Corbin said no. Her advice to her past self is the same one she would give to other would-be international students: “Do it. Take the leap and study abroad. There is no denying the difficulties associated with doing so, but the benefits far outweigh the hardships. The experience of studying abroad will challenge you to grow in ways that being at home can not achieve.”