Monash medical student changing lives and awarded Westpac Fellowship

MasadMonash University medical student Ms Masad Alfayadh was awarded a prestigious Westpac Social Change Fellowship last week, acknowledging her work at Happy Brain Education, a not-for-profit organisation she co-founded that is changing the lives of young Australians through education.

A final year medical student at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS), Masad is one of ten social innovators to receive a Westpac Social Change Fellowship, valued at up to $50,000, through the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation.

MasadIn 2015 Masad co-founded Happy Brain Education (HBE), a not-for-profit mentoring and tutoring organisation that aims to empower young people through education and personal development.

“Currently, there are three HBE branches, one for youth in Melbourne’s

Broadmeadows, another for youth in the Dandenong area, and a third which focuses solely on students from refugee backgrounds,” said Masad.

Masad said, apart from completing her medical training, her biggest focus in life is empowering young people experiencing social disadvantage, financial disadvantage and mental health issues.

“I think our world could be a much better place if young people are empowered and supported and involved as active participants in society—I guess this belief comes from personal experiences and my experiences growing up.”

In 2003 when she was 10 years old, Masad and her family arrived in Australia as refugees from Iraq.

“I only knew four words of English, and I felt very overwhelmed, alone and scared,” said Masad.

Just five months later, Masad’s father was tragically killed in a car accident, creating even more hardship for her family. Masad believes that education changed her life.

“The opportunities, self-worth and affirmation that came from my schooling were extremely empowering,” said Masad.

“Education opened up so many doors to me, and made me understand the world. I know that it can help many other children who come from a similar background to me. It can empower, encourage, and open many doors for them too.”

Masad’s Westpac Fellowship will enable her to complete a Certificate of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Stanford University, a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact at Swinburne University and two courses at the University of Oxford, one on global social movements and another in  management.  She also hopes to use the scholarship to volunteer with Medecines Sans Frontieres and to further her charity work to help more people around Australia.

“Young people have the power to change the world. They just need to be empowered and supported,” said Masad.

Masad thanks Gizem Hasimoglu, Alisha Rawal, Emre Alpay, Mariam Hassan, Khue Nguyen and Taha Mollah- Monash medical students- and Dr Tooba Mollah, Dr Krita Sridharan and Dr Julian Cassar- Monash alumni- who have all helped her establish HBE and have shared the journey with her. She also thanks her BMedSc(Hons)  supervisors,  Professor Jim Buttery and Dr Peter Gowdie, who were very understanding and supported her in establishing HBE whilst still learning so much from her BMedSc(Hons) and getting the most out of it.

“They’re the greatest supervisors anyone could ever ask for!”