Where are they now? Elsie Hasdak, Master of Public Health 2014 (from Bangladesh)

  • Master of Public Health 2014
  • Graduate Certificate Health Promotion, 2013
  • Australia Awards Government scholarship 2013
  • Current position & organisation: Monitoring Planning and Reporting Advisor, World Mission Prayer League (LAMB Hospital), Bangladesh

I grew up observing my parents living and working for deprived communities, serving the underprivileged throughout their lives. This has implanted in my heart a desire to work for the people who are deprived of basic opportunities. I am inspired to work for justice, peace, gender equality, and leadership development.

As an Indigenous woman I had to overcome many challenges in my journey and in the workplace. My family has supported me to face all kinds of challenges in my professional and academic journey.

Why did you choose to study at Flinders University?

My key academic focus was to understand the socio-environmental factors of health and wellbeing, and the role of community participation. I was also interested in studying primary health care and Indigenous health. Flinders has an excellent reputation in these areas and is committed to engaging with Indigenous Australians, which enriches its research resources and have socio-economic, cultural and policy relevance. I also wanted to live in a less crowded, smaller city. Flinders University met all my desires and interests.

What is your favourite memory from your time at Flindersr?

While studying at Flinders, I spent my best times at the OASIS centre on the Bedford Park campus, which offered physical, emotional, social and spiritual support to help students achieve their academic and personal goals.

I joined one of the groups that had regular activities for International students at Flinders. We shared foods, stories, had lots of fun in group activities, enjoyed picnics and got to know other students from different countries. I also loved to ride on the University bus and roam around the campus, enjoying the beautiful landscapes, large trees, wildlife and green areas. I still miss them. I will never forget how in Autumn the Jacaranda trees decorated the roads in Adelaide with purple flowers. I loved to walk through the purple roads!

I was privileged to have Dr Darlene McNaughton as one of my course coordinators and teachers. She was always supportive and welcoming to her students. I remain deeply inspired by her ‘moral responsibility’ to help all students equally.

What did you do after graduating?

I returned home to Bangladesh and joined World Mission Prayer League (LAMB), a non-Government organisation located in the countryside of north-east Bangladesh where the public health needs are extensive. The Community Health and Development activities of LAMB allowed me put my learned theories into practice and extend my professional skills. This was a great opportunity to directly engage with the community and see firsthand how socio-economic conditions, societal norms, and religious beliefs hugely influence people’s health and wellbeing. These factors are linked with each other and better understood and addressed by the community themselves if they receive the necessary support and education.

How did your time at Flinders University influence you most?

Personally, I learned how it feels when someone comes to live in a foreign land. It was lovely to be greeted by the local people with smiles and to receive helping hands when in need. The education I received at Flinders and the people I met in Adelaide have impacted my life hugely, and helped me to become a more responsible person.  The opportunity to study at Flinders was a great blessing to me.

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