Class of 2003

John’s outstanding success at Aquinas College was fuelled by a combination of ability and determination. He says: “Nothing came easy”, but you would not think it for the Dux of 2003. John was fascinated by the opportunities robotic engineering provided. He could see a big gap in our understanding of the interface between biological science and engineering. Coming from a rich heritage of engineers, John wanted to use his time well at Aquinas and stretched himself to excel in Economics, English Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Calculus and Applied Mathematics. He attributes much of this to: “taking things apart from an early age”. At school, he immersed himself in everything Aquinas offered: playing in the Cricket XIs, Hockey XIs, a regular member of the drama production cast and playing in the College’s Santinas band. He also won the Headmaster’s Prize for Leadership.

Never happy with one of anything, John successfully completed two degrees at UWA: Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Human Biology. Struck by the similar cultures of UWA and Aquinas College, he thrived at university. John was frustrated by the lack of overlap between engineering and neuroscience and so studied the “brain-computer interface” in his last year at UWA. His Rhodes Scholarship propelled him into a space where engineering and medicine could co-exist. At Oxford, he graduated with an MSc in Financial Economics and Biomedical Engineering.

Along the way, he helped pioneer a device the size of a small desktop photocopier that aided early breast cancer diagnosis. He also worked on the compilation of a figure that would help diagnose a patient’s correct state of health in an ER crisis. At this stage, for him, the missing piece in the jigsaw was understanding business and how to be successful in commerce as his father had been for 35 years. So John successfully secured a place at Harvard and graduated with an MBA.

After a year as an associate at investment banking giant JP Morgan, he is now an Analyst, Special Situations at global investment and technology firm D.E. Shaw in New York. Here he finds his financial qualifications combined with his understanding of biology and how technology is helping engineering to improve lives all meet at a perfect junction.

The journey is only just beginning for this hugely talented young man. He says of his time at Aquinas College: “it was welcoming and warm and positive in spirit. That meant turning up to study was a joy! The longer I am away, I realise that what we had during high school was very special, and being away has heightened that feeling of good fortune”.

What got him to where he is today? He simply asked the question of himself every day: “How I can be the best person for those around me and how I can be the best for myself?”