S. Prashanth, MBBS topper at the Madras Medical College, took home 36 medals on Thursday. A student of DAV Senior Secondary School Gopalapuram (State Board), he belonged to the last batch of MBBS graduates before NEET was introduced in the State.
A native of Madurai, Prashanth qualified for NEET as well but got in as a State Board student. He had to endure a long-winding legal battle before admission, eight months after others had started course work, he recalled.
Prashanth’s father, who was employed with Tata Technologies, died of cancer when he was in Class XII and his grandmother died of cancer last year. His mother is a deputy general manager with the United India Insurance Company.
He was awarded the coveted Johnstone Medal given to the most deserving and best outgoing student and the winner of maximum medals in a year at the MMC. Instituted in 1848, there have been years when the medal was not given for want of the right candidate.
“My motivation came from my mother Shanthi and grandmother Jayalakshmi,” he said. “I had to live up to the trust they had in me and it moved me to ace the exams and get the Johnstone Medal.”
He intends to pursue the civil services and will write the exam next year. “I will be able to cater to a larger section of society and a larger population rather than confining myself to the medical, health sector. I will be able to do justice that way as a civil servant,” he said.
He was the president and national convenor of the Indian Medical Association’s medical students network. He is the national president of the Students’ Network Organisation, affiliated to the World Health Organisation and Towards the Unity for Health.
Health Minister Ma. Subramanian, who distributed the medals and certificates, later told media persons that MMC had a special place in medical education in the country, having produced outstanding doctors who went on to win Padma awards.
At the 186th graduation day, 250 students received their degrees. Mr. Subramanian said the Chief Minister had announced ₹66 crore worth new building for the neurology department and ₹4 crore to upgrade cardiology and ₹15 crore for the nephrology department.
“It is ranked 60th among the 100 best medical colleges in the world. The State has a special place when it comes to medical education. Across the country, there are 302 government medical colleges and 276 self-financing medical colleges. The State has 70 medical colleges, including 36 government and 34 private institutions,” he said.