Through every student who will receive a scholarship in her name, Hadis Hayatdavoudi will live on.
Hayatdavoudi, a graduate student in chemistry, was one of four Western students who died aboard Ukraine Flight PS752 a year ago, on Jan. 8, 2020.
The new scholarship bearing her name will support one chemistry student with $3,000 each year.
“It is something perhaps that may help her family feel that her name is kept alive and that part of her will remain with all of the students who will receive this scholarship,” said Nasim Bagheri, who earned her PhD in chemistry at Western in 1988 and whose $30,000 gift launched the scholarship.
“It will be a constant reminder of who Hadis was,” Bagheri said.
Hayatdavoudi was a brilliant researcher – one of the best students chemistry professor Jamie Noel had ever supervised – and was devoted to making a difference in her community. Originally from Shiraz, 1,000 kilometres south of Tehran, she had just finished her first holiday visit with family and friends in more than a year.
Even though her science was serious – research into preventing corrosion in copper-coated canisters planned to safeguard spent nuclear fuel – Hayatdavoudi’s whimsical side led her to collect for jewelry some of the little copper balls that were one byproduct of her work.
She volunteered as a tutor for people with disabilities and made lasting connections among the Persian and science communities at Western.
It was only fitting, then, that Hayatdavoudi’s memory be the focus of this new chemistry award, said Bagheri, who is originally from Iran and now works in the chemical industry in California.
“So much happened in 2020. It was a horrific event, a tragic event in so many ways. I suppose I identified a bit with her. The fact that there would be so many students, other academic people, professionals on that flight was horrific for Canada as much as for Iran,” she said.
“It seemed to me, what could one do? One could send condolences, but perhaps someone could also carry her name (in a scholarship),”
The first recipient of the Hadis Hayatdavoudi Scholarship in Chemistry is expected to be chosen this year.
Hayatdavoudi, Ghazal Nourian, Milad Nahavandi and Sajedeh Saraeian, Western graduate students in engineering and science, were among 176 people who died when their flight was shot down just minutes after takeoff from Iran.
Western has also established the Flight 752 Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Engineering and Science, funded in part by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, in memory of the four Western students whose lives were cut short in the downing of Ukraine International Flight PS752. A science student will be the first recipient of the scholarship (to be announced later this month), with an engineering student receiving a scholarship in 2022.
As part of an Ontario government scholarship program in memory of students aboard Flight PS752, Western has four scholarships of $10,000 each to disburse to undergraduate students based on merit and financial need. Applications will be received this month, with recipients to be selected in February.
On behalf of Western, President Alan Shepard provided remarks via recorded video for an online international memorial event hosted by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims that began on Thursday, Jan. 7 at 9:42 p.m. EST.
In honour of those tragically lost, the University College flag will fly at half-mast starting at 9:42 p.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 7, until the morning of Saturday, Jan. 9. The building will also be lit up in purple in remembrance.