Showcasing the Power of Resilience and Community Support in Overcoming Adversity.

On Harmony Day, we celebrated stories of diversity, inclusion, and perseverance. Dr Elnaz Tavancheh’s journey embodies these values, showcasing the power of resilience and community support in overcoming adversity.

Elnaz arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker, facing numerous challenges with limited rights and support for education or employment. Undeterred, she embarked on a remarkable journey that saw her transform obstacles into opportunities.

Her career journey began with volunteer work at Kookaburra Kindergarten in Reservoir, where she discovered her passion for education and community service. Soon after, she volunteered at the Melbourne Museum’s marine zoology department, dedicating over 500 hours to learning and contributing to scientific research. Her dedication and diligence made a lasting impression, culminating in the Museum naming a new species of sea cucumber, Globosita elnazae, discovered in the Kimberly River, in her honour—an enduring testament to her commitment.

Despite facing significant hurdles, Elnaz’s determination never wavered. With the support of her team at Melbourne Museum, she enrolled in Parade College in Bundoora, becoming the first girl in the college’s history to pursue VCE studies.

Completing her VCE in just one year, Elnaz’s academic achievements caught the attention of La Trobe University, which awarded her a full scholarship to study Biomedicine. Under the guidance of Prof. John Dewar, she excelled in her studies and forged connections that would shape her future.

Elnaz’s journey took another turn when financial challenges threatened her pursuit of higher education during her Honours year. However, with the unwavering support of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, La Trobe University, and Parade College, she overcame adversity and achieved outstanding results.

Her dedication and talent earned her a prestigious project at the Tumour Immunology Lab at ONJCRI, where she investigated prognostic biomarkers in melanoma. This experience laid the foundation for her PhD, which she completed in 2023, gaining invaluable skills in cancer research along the way.

Today, Elnaz works as a Clinical Research Associate at ONJCRI, spearheading multiple clinical trials across Australia and New Zealand. Her journey from asylum seeker to cancer researcher serves as an inspiration to all, highlighting the transformative power of perseverance, support, and inclusion.

As we celebrate Harmony Day, let us draw inspiration from Elnaz’s story and reaffirm our commitment to creating a society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background or circumstances.