Sole Purpose, Many Lanes

Young Alumni Award Winner Ahmad Al Rady talks combining podiatry with endless other interests

Freedom for Ahmad Al Rady is doing 10,000 things at once ‘just because I want to’.

Ahmad is a podiatrist, poet, philanthropist, community leader, social activist and business owner. Arriving in Australia from Iraq at nine years old just in time to catch the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks at the turn of the millennium, Ahmad has always wielded an undisciplined curiosity, and has achieved more in his 28 years than most do in a lifetime.

‘When I first came to Australia my English wasn’t up to par so I did a lot of reading and writing… I fell in love with that.’

As a teenager he considered a career in writing or art, but a fascination with science combined with a strong sense of social justice steered him towards a medical science degree at Western. ‘There’s the feeling of wanting to give back,’ he says. Between working in Diabetes High Risk Foot Services at Royal Prince Alfred and Concord hospitals, Ahmad runs a podiatry clinic and is the co-director of another. He has also donated his time and skills through charity Sole Purpose, his own charity which provided shoes, socks, and free podiatry consultations to homeless persons in the community. His love of the spoken and written word, however, has been a constant throughout.

He co-founded the acclaimed Bankstown Poetry Slam in 2013.

Bankstown Poetry Slam is a community platform which empowers people to express themselves through spoken word poetry. It was the first regular poetry slam of Western Sydney, and has gained national recognition as the largest regular poetry slam in Australia. Heralding in over 300 people every month, BPS has featured renowned spoken word poets such as Rupi Kaur, Rudy Francisco, Mark Gonzales, Amal Kassir, Candy Royalle, Omar Musa and Luka Lesson.

Today, Ahmad still writes and still performs.

‘When I first started to write, it was out of frustration about not being heard,’ he says. Now his poems are less political and more about the human experience – designed to inspire rather than agitate.

‘As a young person you’re told to pick a lane, but life is not just one lane.’

Visit to find out about upcoming events.