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Campus and community: Teachers-turned-students

Campus and community: Teachers-turned-students

[photo of Mulugeta Chala and Molalign Adugna, doctoral students in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.]
Queen's University Communications

Mulugeta Chala (left) and Molalign Adugna (right), doctoral students in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.

After a successful first year at Queen’s, Mulugeta Chala and Molalign Adugna will head home to Ethiopia to conduct field research that will contribute to the foundation of an internationally accredited rehabilitation therapy program at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. Both are doctoral students in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and participants in the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

Mr. Adugna taught sociology and worked as the director of continuing and distance educational programs at the University of Gondar. 

“My focus has shifted to rehabilitation from sociology for my PhD, and specifically on the nexus between stigma and inclusive education among children with disabilities in rural Ethiopia,” says Mr. Adugna. “I want to learn different stigma reduction strategies that work in Canada, and find which can be applied to Ethiopia. I also want to develop an intervention strategy for disability awareness for future Ethiopian researchers to practise.”

Mr. Chala is a physiotherapist and clinical educator who coordinated the Office of Research Linkage and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Gondar to connect researchers with the local community.

“My focus is on chronic lower back pain. I’m hoping to develop a chronic pain self-management program customized to the Ethiopian context. Most programs used in developing countries copy strategies from Europe, the United States, and Canada. Those may work for a while, but they’re not sustainable because they lack the context of the developing country,” says Mr. Chala. “While at Queen’s, I want to gain the research skills to develop a research question, and also lay the foundation for the next generation of researchers in Ethiopia. We have a responsibility to train those that follow us.”

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is a 10-year, $24-million partnership that brought Queen’s and the University of Gondar together to support the growth of rehabilitation therapy at the Ethiopian university. The partnership, now in its second year, includes

  • scholarships for 450 undergraduate scholars, including those with disabilities and from areas of conflict, to study at Gondar,
  • 60 faculty members from the University of Gondar to study at the graduate level at Queen’s,
  • a Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) certificate, and
  • an internationally recognized occupational therapy curriculum at the University of Gondar.

Having completed their required graduate coursework, Mr. Chala and Mr. Adugna are now taking comprehensive examinations. Once complete, they will spend the next two years collecting data and writing in Ethiopia, with support from the Mastercard Foundation project office at the University of Gondar.

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 3-2018]