Universiteit Leiden

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University flag travels to Mount Everest and back again

Leiden PhD candidate Mona Shahab climbed Mount Everest two years ago to raise money for the education of disadvantaged children in Egypt. She made it to the top and posed there with the University flag. She recently presented the flag to Rector Carel Stolker.

Shahab on top of Mount Everest.

Shahab was already an experienced mountaineer when, in 2019, she and a team began the ascent of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain. She had already raised money for various good causes such as cancer treatment, climbing Mount Vinson in Antarctica, for instance, to raise money for a Syrian boy with bone cancer. Thanks to her help he was able to get the treatment he needed. Stolker praised Shahab’s tireless efforts when she recently presented him with the flag she had planted on Mount Everest: ‘You’re a hero,’ he told her.

Education and cancer treatment

Shahab has already raised more than 300,000 dollars for charity. A clinical psychologist, she is researching the prevention and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorders in children from war zones. She works at the LUMC where research is conducted into rare forms of cancer. She grew up in Saudi Arabia where she realised how important education is. ‘Education is a human right and children are the future. If I can help one child be a change agent in society, that can already make a difference for the next generation.’ 

Children in Egypt

Why did Shahab present the flag to Rector Carel Stolker? ‘The University has been my home for the past four years. I was a PhD candidate when I climbed Everest, so I wanted to bring the University flag to the roof of the world and back again. As far as my goal was concerned, one reason I climbed Everest was to help 300 children become change agents in their community by giving them the opportunity to learn how to think critically, develop analytical skills and acquire new knowledge.’ This may not be the last we’ve heard of Shahab. ‘Perhaps I’ll be able to fund a research project at Leiden University with the next climb.’ 

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