Mezna AlMarzooqi

Assistant professor at King Saud University

I am from a middle-class family; my father was a businessman and my mother taught illiterate adults how to read and write.

I am also a middle child, the third among three sisters and two brothers. My oldest brother died in 2007, and my father passed away a year after that. My mother is the resilient one in the family and she managed to hold us all together. I learned a lot about life and love from my Mama.

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She showered us in unconditional love, letting me pursue my education and giving me the freedom to travel.

She is also very enthusiastic about helping others through volunteer work and she expects nothing in return.

One incident that really had a big impact on me was when she supported my uncle with the running of his date factory and brought in low-income families to help them find jobs.

Her passion to help others has inspired me to keep on giving. She is my biggest source of inspiration and I hope one day I can be like her.

My family moved around a lot as I was growing up. I was born in Alkhobar, but we moved to Buqayq and lived on a farm, something my father encouraged as he was very outdoorsy.

When I was in elementary school, I remember regularly walking to my aunt’s house in Alkhobar. She worked for Saudi Aramco, and there were a lot of communities and sports clubs that I joined in with. I have fond memories of attending karate classes with my cousins and getting my yellow belt during my sixth grade.

During high school, we moved to AlAhsa, and I later applied to King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh, where I studied medical science and health education.

I then traveled to the US to pursue a master’s degree in public health. I was fortunate enough to be accepted for a six-month training program with the World Health Organization (WHO). Working with a big, multicultural team, I learned a lot, especially from my supervisor.

After gaining my master’s degree, I returned to Saudi Arabia where I was recruited by KSU. I had signed my contract with the university while in America through its program of attracting outstanding professors and researchers.

After teaching for one year at KSU, I went to Australia for four years to do my Ph.D.

I now live in Riyadh working full time as an assistant professor teaching public health in the community health science department at KSU’s applied medical science college.

My research is focused on physical activity, especially for female school students and those at college level. One of my projects is aimed at increasing physical activity awareness among small female students and physical literacy, another area I am trying to add to my research. The Kingdom has few women in this field, so I would love to help as many Saudi female researchers as I can.

In continuation of my field research, I was appointed scientific collaborator last November at the Health Sciences Research Center. I was previously an associate research consultant at the Center of Lifestyle and Health Research at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh.

In Feb. 2018 I launched the first women’s sports initiatives in Saudi universities, starting with KSU. The KSU Movement was – and still is – an initiative to increase awareness of physical activity and a healthy sustainable lifestyle among female university staff and women in the Riyadh community. Our belief is that the campus can be a birthplace for new athletes and Olympic champions.

The KSU Movement is an initiative to increase awareness of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle among women. The campus can be a birthplace for new athletes and Olympic champions.

That same year I founded an initiative that organizes social runs in Riyadh, Jeddah and Khobar. “Let it Out” is aimed at increasing awareness about mental health through running and getting more people talking about mental health to remove the stigma around it.

Through the KSA Movement we launched the Hope Challenge last October, the first virtual sport initiative involving national and international sports community groups from across the Gulf Cooperation Council. I was the fundraising chairperson. Participants were able to contribute during that month by recording their physical activities – walking, hiking, running, cycling. We were able to raise SR200,000 ($53,333) for the Zahra Breast Cancer Association.

I believe that, due to my mother’s strong influence, I was able to achieve a few of my goals and raise awareness about a number of community issues. Because of this dedication I was awarded the MIT Hacking Medicine Award in the Human Centered Design for Wellbeing track, an award bestowed upon me by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and MIT Hacking Medicine in late 2018, as well as receiving the first National Services award at the annual Injaz Ceremony at KSU.

My family remain my top priorities. I believe that life is short so live moments to the full, enjoy life and do all things possible to bring peace to my community.

I am passionate about having harmony with the people around me. Community members may have different attitudes or views, but they all have the same human feelings.

I have never regretted the career path I’ve taken. I love what I’m doing and am glad to spend my free time engaged in community work and helping others, as my mother has always done. 

Follow Menza AlMarzooqi
Twitter: @ksu_movement
Instagram: @ksu_movement
Linkedin: @mezna-almarzooqi

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