An Update from Helena Franco, Office of Women (Leadership) Bursary Recipient

Bursary recipient, helena at Harvard Medical School

The Department of Justice and Attorney General, through their Office for Women, has been a supporter of the NCWQ Bursary Program for a number of years. Four bursaries were sponsored in the 2021 NCWQ Bursary Program. Helena Franco was the recipient of the Office of Women (Leadership) Bursary.  Helena is now studying at Harvard Medical School and she has kindly provided an update on her move to the USA and her studies.


About Helena

Helena Franco is a medical graduate heavily involved in leadership and advocacy in global surgery. Currently Orthopaedic Principal House Officer at the Cairns Hospital, Helena has been President of the International Students Surgical Association, Vice Chair and a Board Member of the International Student Surgical Network and was the AMA Queensland Council of Doctors in Training Deputy Chair in 2020, advocating for pre-vocational doctors during COVID-19. Helena was involved with forming Australian Global Surgery Group aimed at identifying local solutions for surgical inequality. In 2019 she was a keynote speaker at the International Students’ Surgical Conference and nominated for Young Australia of the Year. Through formal Honorary Adjunct and Associate Lecturer appointments at Bond University and the University of Queensland, she provides regular teaching and mentorship to students.

This year Helena received an R.G. Menzies Scholarship to Harvard. Helena will attend the Harvard Medical School to study a Master of Medical Sciences in Global Health Delivery. This program will allow her to enhance her career plans of developing a model of delivering Orthopaedic surgical to rural and remote regions of Australia.


Helena at Harvard Medical SChool
Helena at Harvard Medical School


A Few Words from Helena

The move from Brisbane went well, and I’ve settled into being a student again with exams and assignments. My classes this semester have been wonderful so far. In particular, my favourite is ‘Global Health and Social Medicine’, where the lecturer is Dr Joia Mukherjee, an infectious diseases and paediatric physician, Global Helath advocate and author who I have admired for several years. It is incredible to sit in her class! We also attend a class called ‘Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Cares? Reimagining Global Health’ which is on how health care systems can be restructured to provide high quality care to underserved, vulnerable communities.

Learning about my fellow students (from 16 different countries) and their previous work is inspiring. We have in-depth discussions about health care delivery, and are currently writing a paper together on the discrepancies in health delivery through the COVID-19 pandemic.

While I’m missing home, I’m really enjoying my time. I am very thankful for the support provided by the National Council of Women Queensland (NCWQ) team and for the support of their Office of Women (Leadership) Bursary.

Have a lovely day,

Hel;ena's class mates at Harvard
Hel;ena’s class mates at Harvard

About The Bursary Program

Established in 1905, the National Council of Women of Queensland Inc. (NCWQ) continues to represent the voice of thousands of women through its affiliated organisations and individual membership.

The bursary program, since its commencement in 2009, indicates the strong commitment of NCWQ to equality of opportunity for all women, especially in offering assistance to Queensland female students as they pursue their chosen pathway of study.

The 2021 program, through NCWQ and its sponsors, offered a range of bursaries, to assist Queensland women with their educational expenses. Most bursaries are valued approximately $1,000 each. 2022 Bursary program Application dates released.

For further information about the Bursary Program, please contact Kathy Cavanagh, NCWQ Bursary Program Manager at or send a query here.



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