Meet the Courage Scholars (Hala Nasrallah)

Courage Scholarship / Post Traumatic Growth / Professional Research / Violence

Hala is a humanitarian aid worker and human resources professional. She was awarded a Leaders for Democracy Fellowship in 2013 and participated in the 2018 Asian Forum for Global Governance and Raisna Dialogue in India. She is an avid advocate for refugee and human rights, and enjoys boxing, meditation, and creative hobbies.


How did your journey in Positive Psychology begin?

My journey with positive psychology began with an Inner Strength Program that I took with Claire Higgins in 2018. During that time, I was working away from home and struggling with my personal-professional life balance, both of which were very stressful. I had also been doing therapy for several years. Aside from the immediate relief therapy provided me, in the long run I couldn’t see myself improving the quality of life I was hoping for. Positive psychology helped me to see a different perspective and it provided me with practical tools I can use to navigate my life. Today, I see positive psychology as my compass that I can go back to whenever life takes me away. After finishing the program, I continued learning about positive psychology through online learning accompanied by the guidance I receive from my north star, Diane Dreher, who has been my professional coach since October 2019 and ever since then, has been providing me guidance and support in every aspect of my life.


Why did you apply for the Courage Scholarship?

In the humanitarian sector, you usually deal with complex situations. Some of them result from war’s impact on beneficiaries and colleagues you work with, others are the natural outcome of people coming from different backgrounds and working together. As a human resources manager, I’ve always been the focal point of support to colleagues struggling either personally or professionally. After experiencing the peace positive psychology brought to my life, I tried to implement what I had learned in the work place. Yet, the impact was not what I hoped for as I lacked enough training in the field and convincing management of the concept was never an easy task. When I saw the scholarship advertisement on LinkedIn, I immediately knew that this is the next step I should take as it would equip me with the knowledge I need to bring positive psychology to a human resources department. I believe this will not only help the team I work with but also support the organisation as a whole.


Why and how does strengthening Positive Psychology research on Violence & Post Traumatic Growth interest you?

Positive psychology on violence and post traumatic growth is a critical field that can help millions restore the life they have lost due to the continuous violence we’re experiencing around the world, both physically as well as intellectually through the digital world. Yet with such tremendous impact this field can have, it’s still considered as a young science with only a few hundred trained and licensed practitioners around the world, and less than that in published research. Like any academic field, each research done on this topic will enrich the one before and influence the one after and therefore, the more literature we have the more we can advance. I’m interested in such research both personally and professionally, as it will help shape our interventions in the future. Having lived my whole life surrounded by violence, I can only hope to see the impact of this research reaching the most vulnerable locations.


What are you most looking forward to on the scholarship?

I’m very grateful this program came to me at this time of my life. I’m looking forward to experiencing the journey of both the training as a positive psychology practitioner and the research project. I’m prepared for whatever comes with it, knowing that it will not only be theoretical studies but also interacting with fellow students with different experiences. After a long time of reading through the literature on positive psychology, I’m mostly excited for the prospect of discussing ideas with the tutors and research supervisor who can guide and bring me back whenever I lose my focus. I’m definitely looking forward to see positive psychology grow within me by the end of the program, and me being able to bring what I’ve learned back to those who need it.


The Courage Scholarship for Violence and Post Traumatic Growth is funded by the PPG Scholarship Fund as a priority research area. Four positions were awarded for the period, 2020-2022. The four Courage Scholars are each tasked with researching the relevance and possibilities for application of Positive Psychology to post-traumatic growth in situations of violence, conflict, and crime.

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