One of the best decision I made halfway through my PhD is starting my Instagram page. By using appropriate hashtags such as #phdlife #gradlife #phdstudentsofinstagram #scicomm, I connected with a lot of incredible people who became my friends in everyday life too. None makes it through a PhD on their own, and if there is a piece of advice I can give to an early-stage PhD student is to find your community and no matter how you reach out to people, in social or virtual life. just do it! After two years of blogging, I’ve come to learn that social media doesn’t have to be an escape route from your life or substitute it, it’s complementary and, as it in my case, you can use them wisely to become more than your PhD!
Faviola Dadis is one of the amazing people I got to know through Instagram. I don’t even know where to start telling her story. Faviola used to model and this should be a surprise because she is stunning. She had a 15 year long successful career as an international model and ran a PR firm in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo for 3 years while still going to school and finishing her bachelor’s degree in biological psychology! Her attempt to move from modelling to acting was traumatic. In fact, Faviola was the second model who came forward accusing Steven Seagal of sexual misconduct. In her interview to TheWrap, Faviola confessed that it took her years to get over her PTSD.
I found Faviola’s Instagram page @neurosciencebarbie back then and I found it so brave to be so open and talk about such a personal and traumatic experience. Many women don’t come forward for the fear of being judge and or misunderstood. So, I found this her story incredibly inspiring and empowering for every woman who went through the same.
Faviola had a 15 year long successful career as an international model and ran a PR firm for 3 years while doing her bachelor.
Besides modelling, Faviola never left her passion for science behind. In fact, she graduated with an MSc from the University of Oxford working on cognitive rehab and deficits in stroke patients. She edited and co-authored the book Aging and Dementia: Neuropsychology, Motor Skills and Pain, and has presented her research at conferences around the world. She’s now a PhD candidate at the VU University, Amsterdam, and her research focuses on traditional and virtual reality neurorehabilitation in patients with stroke, dementia, and traumatic brain injury. Many of us start a PhD after winning a scholarship. Faviola decided to do things her own way and she’s self-funding her PhD. How? Faviola is the CEO and founder of NeuroReality, a start-up company which provides Virtual Reality games intended to train a variety of cognitive skills such as calculation, attention, memory, visuospatial abilities, executive functions, and reaction time. Faviola won a €1M in funding for her start-up and this is how she is currently funding her education.
Faviola is self-funding her research as she started her own start-up company Neuro Reality and won a €1M investment.
The reason why I chose to feature Faviola has nothing to do with her career as a successful model and entrepreneur. Faviola is autistic and had a long history of anxiety and depression too due to the sexual assault, loss of dear members of her family and her dog. She lost everything and ended up living in her car and a small storage room for 7 months. She rebuilt her life from scratch after receiving the funding for her start up.
I personally think that her story is incredible and I wish people like Faviola could be in the spotlight more because they can be a true example of empawerment for anyone both men, women, both!