Current Fellows

PhD Fellow Alumni

Molalign Belay Adugna

School: Rehabilitation Science
Supervisor: Dr. Setareh Ghahari (PhD) & Dr. Rosemary Lysaght (PhD)
Research: The Influence of Stigma on Educational Participation among Children with Physical Disabilities in Northwest Ethiopia
Graduation Date: 07/07/21

Molalign Belay is a doctoral student in Rehabilitation Science, a Mastercard Foundation Fellow and a faculty member at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. He has worked for different local organizations in Ethiopia as a volunteer trainer, trustee, and regular guest as a public educator and social commentator. Being an African visionary young scholar and a recipient of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow, he is interested in participating in different programs and engaging with and learning from others. He envisions, upon the completion of his PhD studies, to work for social justice and develop a framework for promoting the inclusion and full participation of children/youths with disabilities and their caregivers in their communities. He is also interested in organizing a community of young scholars and facilitating community engagement by mentoring students with disabilities and establishing community-based associations and capacity-building training workshops and youth dialogue forums in Ethiopia. He seeks opportunities to build networks for future collaborative and joint projects on education, research and community services in Ethiopia/Africa.

Molalign has a dream of being an effective and influential educator and public leader in his community and country and working to and with underprivileged people including PWDs through a variety of means. Therefore, he is interested in being a part of the MasterCard Foundation (MCF) Scholars Program and studying global leadership perspective and practice elsewhere in Africa and the world. His fellowship at the MCF is a historic, unique, and unforgettable moment for him because he has been exposed and experiencing with standard and authenticated education/curricula, tested experiential learnings and collaborative disability and rehabilitation research projects, and new ideas about disability and rehabilitation at leading organization i.e., Queen’s University. Through the MCF fellowship, Molalign has met his PhD advisors and mentors, other Fellows and senior academicians and disability/rehabilitation researchers as well as civic association leaders.

Molalign is actively engaged in his community through his disability related research and community services for those who are potentially stereotyped negatively and by mobilizing resources to fight stigma and related barriers to disability inclusion. In rural areas of Ethiopia, for example, children with disabilities (CWDs) never went to school; instead they are shackled and confide at home and excluded from the community, subjected to charity, and deprived of their rights to access in education, healthcare, and justice. Fighting disability stigma and providing equitable access to education, employment and services to PWDs will ensure their inclusion and improved lives. His PhD dissertation project is aimed at examining disability stigma from different stakeholders’ perspective and developing a substantive theory. Thus, his dissertation project will provide a baseline data to measure stigma along with its contributing factors and effects on the quality of life of PWDs in different contexts of stakeholders in developing countries. Molalign is motivated to teach more about positive attitudes and to conduct disability stigma research, using international perspective and diversity lens and advocate for PWDs and inform inclusive disability policy and evidence-based practice. He will actively volunteer at his university and pledge to advocate and work with local community for social justice and creating disability inclusive culture, removing stigma related problems, and ensuing sustainable opportunities for the meaningful participation of PWDs in Ethiopia. Molalign has big dreams and a list of professional and leadership goals to accomplish on disability stigma research and inclusive education policy and practice in Ethiopia and effectively designing disability rights literacy and anti-stigma programs for different local contexts. To do this, training and experience sharing with other disability researchers would have a paramount importance to his professional development and future research initiatives and practice.  Thus, Molalign is grateful for the MCF and his home and host universities for such a great lifetime opportunity; he really needs their keen cooperation and help in this regard by providing me more support in his final PhD year and also considering me for more and further disability and inclusive education projects.

Mulugeta Bayisa Chala

School: Rehabilitation Science
Supervisor: Dr. Jordan Miller and Dr. Catherine Donnelly
Research: Building foundations for research on self-management for chronic low back pain in Ethiopia
Graduation Date: 05/21

Mulugeta is a doctoral student in Rehabilitation Science, a Mastercard Foundation Fellow and faculty member at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. He completed both his BSc (Sep. 2008) and MSc (July 2012) in Physiotherapy at University of Gondar (UoG), Ethiopia. Soon after he completed his undergraduate training, he joined the department of Physiotherapy as a graduate assistant and has been serving as a faculty member ever since. Mulugeta has been involved in teaching, patient care, and research at UoG before he embarked on a Ph.D. journey at Queen’s University, Canada. As a practicing physiotherapist, Mulugeta has treated patients with musculoskeletal disorders at UoG hospital. Specifically, he worked with patients suffering from pain-related disabilities. While working with these patients, he witnessed the gap between the needs of patients with chronic pain and the type of services they receive in the university hospital. This existing gap motivated Mulugeta to consider joining a Ph.D. program at Queen’s University through the funding of the MasterCard Foundation. He joined Queen’s with the aim of developing knowledge in Rehabilitation Science and research skills, which will enable him to translate best research evidence into practice to improve the quality of life of people with chronic low back pain. His Ph.D. work aims to lay a foundation for chronic pain self-management program and support people with chronic pain disability in Ethiopia.  Mulugeta believes that the partnership between Queen’s University and UoG is an exciting and creative project to develop the capacity of the university of Gondar staff. In particular, through this collaboration, the knowledge and skills gained during the capacity building training at Queen’s will advance Rehabilitation Science education in Ethiopia. Likewise, the partnership between the two institutions will also benefit the Queen’s community through reciprocal learning from the students who bring diverse knowledge to the university. Lastly, the ongoing collaborative research projects between Queen’s and University of Gondar staff is an example of how the North-South partnerships bring team of researchers from different backgrounds to solve specific problems (e.g., disability) in a community.

Mulugeta believes that the research skills he is gaining at Queen’s University will be a stepping stone to be an established researcher in the area of disability and inclusive life in Ethiopia. For instance, the research findings from his Ph.D. project will allow him to design a culturally competent and acceptable chronic pain self-management program in Ethiopia to reduce the impact of pain-related disability among people with low back pain (a condition which is known to contribute to significant years lived with disability). Lastly, Mulugeta will apply the knowledge on disability and rehabilitation related theories, models, and frameworks he has gained during his Ph.D. training while teaching disability-related courses and conduct disability-related research at UoG.