Dan BidoisA former Auckland high school dropout and cancer survivor is set to become a Harvard scholar.

Dan Bidois was last night awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to complete a two-year masters in public policy at the university, in Boston, Massachusetts.

The 27-year-old beat more than 2000 other applicants worldwide.

Mr Bidois's academic career had a slow start - he dropped out of high school at 15.

"I felt really disengaged with high school. I wasn't getting the stimulation I wanted," he said.

A week after leaving school, he was diagnosed with bone cancer and had chemotherapy and an operation to save his leg.

After recovering, Mr Bidois, who is of Tainui descent, worked as a butcher's apprentice.

"There was one guy who was an American, who took a liking to me and pulled me aside and said, 'Dan, you've got a lot of potential, but you need to go and study'."

After completing a bridging course at the Manukau Institute of Technology, Mr Bidois was accepted into a commerce degree at the University of Auckland and "never looked back".

Mr Bidois plans to study the academic performance of African-American and Hispanic students in US schools, and hopes to use his findings to encourage more Maori and Pacific students to achieve at school and pursue further studies.

He is the first recipient of the Fulbright-Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Graduate Award.