New scholarship honours Western student killed on downed Ukrainian Airlines flight

Hadis Hayatdavoudi. Photo courtesy of Western University.

One year after PhD student Hadis Hayatdavoudi’s life was taken when the Iranian military shot down the passenger plane she was aboard, Western University has announced it will honour her memory with a new scholarship.

The university said Friday the $3,000 scholarship bearing Hayatdavoudi’s name will be awarded to a chemistry student annually. It was made possible through a $30,000 donation to the post secondary institution by Nasim Bagheri.

“It is something perhaps that may help her family feel that her name is kept alive and that part of her will remain with all of the students who will receive this scholarship,” said Bagheri, who earned a PhD in chemistry at Western in 1988. “It will be a constant reminder of who Hadis was.”

Hayatdavoudi was one of four Western students and 176 passengers killed aboard Ukraine Flight PS752 on January 8 of last year. The flight had just taken off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, bound for Kyiv, when it was shot down. Iranian officials admitted three days after the crash that its Revolutionary Guard fired a missile that brought down the plane.

Hayatdavoudi, who was a graduate student in chemistry, was described as a “brilliant researcher” by former professors and was returning to London from her first trip home in more than a year when the plane was downed.

“It was a horrific event, a tragic event in so many ways. I suppose I identified a bit with [Hayatdavoudi],” said Bagheri. “The fact that there would be so many students, other academic people, professionals on that flight was horrific for Canada as much as for Iran.”

The first recipient of the Hadis Hayatdavoudi Scholarship in Chemistry will be announced later this year.

Western has also established the Flight 752 Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Engineering and Science in memory of all four of the Western students killed on Ukraine Flight PS752. In addition to Hayatdavoudi, Ghazal Nourian, Milad Nahavandi, and Sajedeh Saraeian, who were studying science and engineering, died onboard.

The Flight 752 Memorial Graduate Scholarship will be awarded to its first recipient, a science student, next month. An engineering student will receive the scholarship in 2022.

Western is also marking the somber anniversary of the downed flight by flying its flags at half-staff until Saturday.