Family bereavement strengths the duo’s ambition to study medicine
It was double success for one Birmingham family this week when a set of twins took a step closer to achieving their dreams of becoming medical doctors following a family heartbreak.
Harjeet and Manveer Singh Wilkhu, from Sutton Coldfield, were awarded first-class honours degrees from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for their medical sciences two-year accelerated course and have both now gone on to study medicine at the University of Sheffield.
The achievement comes five years after the 20-year-old twins unexpectedly lost their dad Karpal Singh in 2018 and had to cope not only with grief but with financial burden following his death.
"We had both wanted to study medicine for a long time anyway and then seeing what happened to our dad strengthened our passion to be able to help someone in a medical emergency."— BSc Medical Sciences graduate Harjeet Singh Wilkhu
“Our dad passed away at a Sikh temple (gurudwara) in front of us while we were playing violin to religious hymns so it came as a complete shock” Harjeet said. “We are a close family and it was a very tough time for our mum Harminder, who went from helping dad out in his businesses to suddenly working three jobs to keep a roof over our heads.
“We considered quitting school and getting jobs but our dad had a really good work ethic and always championed education, so we decided to stick it out and pursue our ambitions to study medicine. We had both wanted to study medicine for a long time anyway and then seeing what happened to our dad strengthened our passion to be able to help someone in a medical emergency.”
Despite going through this trauma at the young age of 15, Manveer and Harjeet still did well in their GCSE’s and received the Maggie Causer Cup from their school, Queen Mary’s Grammar, to celebrate their academic achievement in the face of adversity.
The duo then came to UCLan's Burnley Campus in 2021 to study the 2-year BSc Medical Sciences programme after completing their A levels. Although they were excited, they were also apprehensive as they weren't sure what to expect and it was very far from home.
"All the lecturers were really passionate and the addition of tools such as the Anatomage (virtual dissection) table really brought things to life."— BSc Medical Sciences graduate Manveer Singh Wilkhu
Manveer said: “It was definitely a blessing in disguise because we have had a really well rounded experience, learned so much, met so many extraordinary people, and had so many opportunities we never thought were possible.
“On this course you learn so much and in so much depth, and the way the content is delivered is spectacular. All the lecturers were really passionate and the addition of tools such as the Anatomage (virtual dissection) table really brought things to life.”
The twins have been able to join the second year of the MBChB Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery at Sheffield on scholarship programmes as graduate entrants because of their UCLan qualification.
"It’s a privilege to graduate from UCLan and go onto the next chapter."— BSc Medical Sciences graduate Harjeet Singh Wilkhu
Harjeet added: “It’s been a real journey but with many more ups than downs. We really appreciate all the UCLan staff who helped us get this far, as well as our mum who we get our work ethic from and without whom we definitely wouldn’t be where we are now.”
“It’s a privilege to graduate from UCLan and go onto the next chapter.”