School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

A Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship recipient invited to the Queen’s Scholar Dinner

By Deni Ogunrinde, July 2016

Alumna Homy Dayani-Fard

Attendees of the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Dinner

After working in the field of disability rehabilitation for almost seven years, Atul Jaiswal felt compelled to upgrade his knowledge base in disability-oriented research. Looking across the globe for opportunities to do so, Atul became a recipient of the prestigious ‘Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Diamond Jubilee Scholarship’, which allowed him to take on doctoral research in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy here at Queen’s University. Under the supervision of Dr. Heather Aldersey, Atul focuses his research on understanding the meaning of “participation” for people with deafblindness, and on developing ways to enhance their participation in society. “Challenges in communication, accessing information, and mobility, makes deafblindness one of the most isolating disabilities”, Atul says, “and because of this, those with deafblindness remain on the extreme margins of development”.

In addition to having worked in the field of rehabilitation therapy prior to beginning his PhD, Atul incepted and developed an Inclusive Community Based Rehabilitation (iCBR) Project for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities in Raigad District, India. Since its inception, the program has reached over a thousand people in providing assistance to accessing education, healthcare, and rehabilitation and livelihood services. Atul now contributes to the CBR work in ‘Queen’s University by working for the Queen’s International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation’ (ICACBR), known worldwide for its commendable work in this field. Although these are only a few of Atul’s professional accomplishments, they serve to illustrate his humanitarian prowess, and make his receipt of a QE II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship unsurprising. (If you’d like to learn more about the ICACBR you can visit the website here: )

Atul recently represented Queen’s University and the ICACBR as one of eleven QE II scholars invited to the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Dinner this past June. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston - Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, Former Prime Minister Mr. Jean Chrétien, and seventy additional high-post dignitaries from the Government of Canada, were also in attendance. Atul was incredibly honoured by the invitation to such an event, describing this opportunity as “one of the best moments of his life, [being able to] represent his university and his country in front of such dignitaries”. The goal of the Scholars Dinner was to link those who fund and support the QEII scholarship program with the scholarship recipients. Program supporters were able to learn more about the students’ work, and the scholarship recipients were able to learn more about those supporting their academic pursuits. Among seven professionals in the field of health and rehabilitation science, seated at Atul’s dinner table was Her Excellency Sharon Johnson, a physical and occupational therapy graduate at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral level. This seating arrangement provided Atul with an opportunity to learn more about the work of experts in his field and to discuss his experiences, both, in Canada at Queen’s University, and in India. In short, Atul says “it has been a wonderful experience [in Canada] so far, and that is why I want to give back to Canada in some form”.The Governor General of Canada gives a speech

Not only has Atul been involved with the Queen’s ICACBR since his arrival, but he has also been volunteering for an organization called ‘Goodway’- a non-profit organization working to rehabilitate people with mental or physical disabilities, by providing them with job training and job placement support. Atul is helping the start-up organization with their overall model, referring to himself as a “researcher, therapist, and social entrepreneur in the field of disability rehabilitation. He went on to say “for me, it is a very good exposure to and learning of the social enterprise model”. Likewise, Atul is also trying to contribute by representing graduate students on the ‘Queen’s University Graduate Student Life Advisory Group’ and ‘Academic Integrity Working Group’ by providing an international and graduate student’s insight into generating positive changes within them.

Upon the completion of his PhD, Atul sees himself on a global platform working with people with disabilities, but he would like to start some of this work in his home country. Long-term, he hopes to “bring change to the world”, and with his background and drive, I have the utmost confidence he will be able to do so.

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