A journey to lead


One of eight daughters, Professor Nor Faridah Abdul Manaf (PhD(EHLT) ’98) was inspired by her strong and determined mother to follow her dreams to become a leader.

‘My mother was a bright woman whose own ambition was robbed by World War II. If she was born in a different era, I’m sure she would have become an important leader, but instead she passed her dream to lead onto me,’ says Professor Manaf.

As Deputy Rector of Internationalisation and Global Network at the International Islamic University Malaysia, Professor Manaf is now in a leadership position. To reach this position ‘at the top’ she studied at universities around the world, including Flinders University where she achieved her PhD in New Literatures in English.

While at Flinders, Professor Manaf was also juggling parenthood and says the support from her supervisors was essential to get her through.

‘Professor Susan Sheridan and Professor Lyn Jacobs kept me sane. They were very supportive of my plight as a parent who had ambitions to leave a mark on the world as an intellectual,’ says Professor Manaf. ‘They understood my need to furiously complete my thesis quickly and get back to my family in Malaysia.’

Professor Manaf’s experience of juggling family and career was captured in her first collection of poetry The Art of Naming: A Muslim Woman’s Journey, published in 2006. Poems in the collection have since been studied at universities around the world with a focus on creating understanding of Islam, Muslim women and multiculturalism.

While her dream was once to be an astronaut, Professor Manaf says, ‘I also wanted to lead and now as Deputy Rector it has similar aspects to being an astronaut – you are in a position where you can see everything nice and clear at the top, but will always have the opportunity to get down to earth and do a reality check.’

Read some of Professor Manaf’s recent poetry

Flinders graduates have global reach and international impact, read more.

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College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Higher Degree Research (PhD) International Languages and culture Stories

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