Mor Refael
“I want to have a better life than I was born to and I am determined that I will not be constrained by my background. The hand-up that I have received from Moshal has given me the key to achieving this.”

Mor has three families to who she is grateful and who she wants to make proud: her birth family, her foster family, and the Moshal family. She dreams of discovering the cure for a widespread brain disease such as Alzheimers and thanking them all from the Nobel Prize podium!

So how does a girl from a poor and troubled family even dream of such a goal? We asked Mor about the influences in her life so far.

“I had a tough start in life, trying to look after myself and my siblings, and then being sent to a foster family. In high school, I was fortunate to have teachers who believed in me and encouraged me to work hard and get good grades. I studied biology and decided that this was my key to success, if only I could get to university.”

During her compulsory army service, Mor received support from organizations that exist to help “Lone Soldiers” – those who have no family support. She received a grant towards the cost of university tuition, but it was not enough. So, for three years after leaving the army, Mor worked in multiple jobs, looking after children and working in security, including guarding at Israel’s national airport. During this time she also studied for her university qualification examinations.

“I was fortunate to win a place at Tel Aviv University in the second year that they were working in partnership with the Moshal Scholarship Program. I am one of a small number of Moshal scholars, spread across several faculties, but we help one another however we can. Now in my second year, I am a “Big Sister” mentor to two first-year students, one studying biology and one chemistry, who know that they can come and ask me for help if they need it. It feels great to be able to pay forward some of the support that I have received over the years.”

Today, Mor feels financially secure for the first time in her life, allowing her to concentrate on her degree studies. There are courses that she finds difficult, and without the ability to concentrate her mind she thinks that she would probably fail.

“It’s not as easy as I thought it would be, and I have a packed schedule of tough courses. I hope to work on my laboratory project over the summer vacation because I don’t have time to commit to it now. There is clearly no way that I could have combined studying and working, as I originally intended. Moshal really gave me the best chance of completing this degree, because they have taken my financial worries away.”

Joining the Moshal family has also helped Mor to cope with the pressures of her tough schedule. Workshops in her first year taught her how to manage her time and how to approach exams in a calm and prepared state, and the Moshal advisors are only a phone call away if she needs advice.

“My Moshal advisor really encourages me to believe that I really can complete this degree. The program keeps me focused on my ultimate goal – to become a successful researcher and help people suffering from brain diseases. Since I was young, I noticed that people who are afflicted with conditions such as Alzheimers have no hope of recovery, and that upset me. I believe that scientists will find a cure for them, and I would like to play a part in that process.

“The brain is so complex and mysterious – it challenges us to understand how it works and how it can be fixed. Thousands of scientists are working on these problems, and I want to be one of them, so that we can find a cure and relieve the sufferings of millions of people and their families. The Moshal family has given me the key to becoming part of this research effort, and I hope to make them proud one day.”