Griffith University has honoured one of its top students with its inaugural Lesley Chenoweth award for social justice and equity.
Susan Al-Maani is an honours graduate from the School of Human Services and Social Work, whose tireless community work matched her focused academic output, making her a sure bet for the award.
A well as completing full-time study, Ms Al-Maani works in community development, awareness and advocacy and assists Palestinian groups raise money for programs to help women and children in Palestine.
In 2012 she raised over $60,000 in conjunction with other local organisations for a program to buy sewing machines so women, who would otherwise be on the street, would have a chance to become self-sustainable.
“My passion is to create awareness and advocate for women’s rights and I’m also interested in early intervention programs targeting domestic violence and child abuse.”
The Palestinian-Australian, mother of two came to the attention of academic staff almost immediately as a student with a sharp mind and not shy of asking a question or three.
“I first met her four and half years ago, in one of my classes and I thought she seemed pretty switched on. After the class I went to a fancy scholarship ceremony and there she was again, receiving an equity scholarship,” said the awards eponym, Professor Lesley Chenoweth.
“From that point, all through her courses, she’s been an amazing example for her peers and mentor for other students.”
Ms Al-Maani’s honours supervisor, Dr Donna McDonald became impressed with how prepared Ms Al-Maani was to apply her learning.
“She took every opportunity to walk the talk, whether it was working with her community or policy development project work,” said Dr McDonald.
“Her world view is very broad, it’s not hemmed in by her community, as can sometimes happen with people from small, but highly connected communities. Her work rate was phenomenal.”
Ms Al-Maani paid tribute to her supportive family for helping her through her academic years.
“My husband and kids have been wonderful. They have been a source of inspiration. Without them I would not have done it”.
The Lesley Chenoweth award will be presented annually.