Maddison O’Gradey-Lee has one simple ambition: “I just want to do what I can to make the world a better place.”
But don’t let this humble-sounding goal fool you: this girl is one serious achiever. And it’s not just her teachers and mentors at Macquarie who have noticed – Maddison has just been named among the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence, in the ‘Young Leader’ category.
“I’m so honoured to have been named on the list,” says Maddison. “It still hasn’t sunk in – I can’t believe it!”
The Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) student was recognised – among other things – for her commitment to youth mental health, having created her own mental health organisation called High Tide.
“I’m passionate about eliminating the stigma around mental health, and also ensuring women and girls aren’t held back just because of their gender,” says Maddison. “For me, education is the conduit for both problems.”
“At High Tide, we run practical school workshops that create spaces where education is shared, conversations begin, and empathy and acceptance are ingrained into the hearts and minds of all young people.”
Maddison’s work in mental health has already seen her become the first Australian to be awarded a Dalai Lama Peace Fellowship – an honour which has given her an opportunity to spread her mental health message worldwide.
“I’ve been working with Fellows from around the world on a global mindfulness, entrepreneurship and compassion training program,” Maddison says.
Another item on her to-do list is to bring the Canberra-based Jasiri program – which provides self-defence program for survivors of sexual abuse – to Sydney.
Make the world a better place? We reckon you can safely tick that box, Maddison.
Maddison’s MQ life (um… how does she fit it all in?)
- Serves on the SRC as the Women’s representative
- On the Respect.Now.Always student team
- President of the Indigenous Student Association
- Cadet at Walanga Muru
- Member of the Macquarie Uni water polo team (which is soon heading for Nationals)
A few of Maddison’s other brag-worthy achievements:
- Named a Young Social Pioneer by the Foundation for Young Australia
- Received a scholarship from the Layne Beachley Foundation when she was 17, to attend the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington.
- Has been invited to speak at the United Nations three times, most recently at the Commission on the Status of Women on how to engage more young people in gender equality discussions.
- Presented a report to the United Nations on young people’s recommendations for the Sustainable Development Goals.