LUCAS Booth spent the start of his medicine degree looking for excuses to leave.
"It would have been easier to give up, go home and continue with my normal life," said Mr Booth, a married father of three.
"I'd flirted with the idea of being a doctor for a while but never really believed I could do it.
"I never had faith in myself. I grew up in an abusive household and (a relative) told me I was useless and no good. After being told that long enough you start to believe it.
"But things started falling into place. I was able to get scholarships, I kept passing exams.
"I was a bit surprised and thought 'Well, I better keep going'.
"After three years I thought, 'It's a bit late to give up now!' I had a responsibility to people."
Mr Booth was one of eight Indigenous students who graduated on Friday from the University of Newcastle's Joint Medical Program, tipping the total number of Indigenous doctors who have come through UON past 100 to 105.
"It's still a bit surreal and weird - it's difficult to believe," he said.
"I've spent half a decade of study on this, but it's mainly good to catch up with everybody I know."
Mr Booth left home at 15 after being threatened with violence, but stayed committed to finishing school.
"Education was the key - it was the thing that changed my life," he said.
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"When things like this happen you can go one way or the other, you either make something of your self or you don't.
"I didn't want to end up like everybody else, I wanted more from my life.
"I didn't want to be unemployed and have no hope."
Mr Booth was accepted into a Bachelor of Social Science, which he completed after volunteering with Lifeline and completing a Diploma of Community Services (Welfare).
He then started working as a trainee enrolled nurse in Kempsey and worked his way towards a Bachelor of Nursing.
He was accepted into the Bachelor of Medicine in 2012 but after completing a few weeks of classes experienced what he described as an "acute grief reaction".
"I felt really anxious and upset and like I was needed at home [in Macksville]," he said.
He deferred and returned in 2013, completing two subjects in the first semester and taking second semester off.
"The third time I came back, in 2014, I established some friendships, set up study groups for support and went straight ahead up the hill. I changed the way I thought."
Mr Booth is a junior medical officer at Coffs Harbour Hospital and wants to work as a general practitioner with Aboriginal communities.
"I want to show my family they can do anything they want, regardless of what they've been through," he said.
"I want to help people navigate the health system and be an advocate for them."