Jawad Trad takes his alma mater’s focus on service to heart, first as a surgeon and then as a humanitarian.
By Will Carr
When Jawad Trad was born in Beirut in 1981, Lebanon was six years into a bitter civil war. As a child, Trad grew up seeing poverty on a scale most of us can’t imagine, a first-hand witness to its effects on the people of Lebanon.
His father, Mohsen Trad, was a lawyer and a politician unwilling to leave the country. But Jawad Trad knew he had to escape to ever find peace. He didn’t know then how the experiences of his childhood would stay with him, ultimately guiding him to the work he’s doing today.
Trad would end up following his brothers, Ghaleb and Tarek, to Oklahoma to pursue an education. He began his college career at the University of Central Oklahoma at the young age of 15. A year later, he transferred to Oklahoma State, where he would spend the next 16 years learning within the OSU system.
“The OSU culture gives you an identity,” Trad says. “And growing up in Lebanon and coming at that young of an age, I was searching for an identity.”
Becoming immersed in OSU’s culture was vital to Trad. He joined many different clubs on campus, worked as a tutor for some of OSU’s student athletes and joined a fraternity on campus.
“Being so young, I was definitely welcomed in the most brotherly way possible,” Trad says. “I think that made my identity more relatable to the people around me at OSU than to my past in Lebanon. It was just amazing. I never once felt people were looking at me differently.”
Even though he had a passion for art and originally wanted to study it, his interest in human anatomy and diseases led him to medical school. Trad earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at OSU-Stillwater, a master’s in biomedical sciences at OSU Center for Health Sciences and his medical degree from the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“Out of all of the osteopathic programs in the country, I think OSU is top five, hands down in every aspect,” Trad says. “You can go to programs like Harvard and see stuff like what they are doing at OSU. It’s very relatable.”
Trad completed his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in invasive cardiology at the OSU Medical Center in Tulsa.
While he received offers from Los Angeles and Boston, he chose to remain in the community he loved because he saw a need.
“I love working at Stillwater Medical Center,” Trad says. “I’m busy all day long with procedures at the hospital, which tells you this community really needed an invasive cardiologist.”
Trad also wanted to serve beyond the borders of the state and country he had come to love. That drive to serve began as soon as he finished his studies at Oklahoma State.
“I graduated from my fellowship on Friday, and on Monday, I was on my way to Haiti with an organization out of Tulsa,” Trad says.
In many ways, Trad’s first trip was a journey back in time to his childhood in Beirut.
“While I was there, I saw a lot of ways organizations were functioning that were lacking. They were not delivering what I thought was an optimal way to be purely humanitarian.”
His drive to improve ways to serve those in need led Trad to found Cura for the World. Cura means “helping hand” in Latin. The foundation aims to help pull communities in developing countries out of poverty using education, medical treatment and agriculture projects without spreading any form of doctrine.
He began fundraising to build Cura. In 2017, the first Cura Gala at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa ultimately helped raise more than $100,000 for the organization.
“That allowed us to go around the world,” Trad says. “We went to Uganda. A lot of people who came with us paid their own way. When they donated to our cause, that money went straight to our mission. It didn’t go to any logistics.”
Cura partners with existing non-governmental organizations that don’t already provide medical aid or food solutions in developing countries. This allows Cura to make a major impact on the area with a focus on orphanages or women’s centers.
“These neglected people, they aren’t looked at,” Trad says. “We found if we attach a clinic to it, then suddenly the community needs them. If we attach a food source or a permaculture project to these entities, people need them. All of a sudden, these people feel like they mean something to their community.”
All of these efforts provide additional support to women and children, offering them a level playing ground and a better shot at attaining their dreams.
Trad says the goal for Cura is to reach every developing country by 2030. They have already made an impact in Haiti, Uganda and Tanzania with plans to visit Congo, Peru and Tibet in the coming year.
All of this progress and dedication to humanitarianism has its roots at OSU, where service remains a key pillar in the university’s mission. Many of the people who accompany Trad on these trips have OSU ties and share his pride in the institution.
“We are not only individuals doing good things in this world,” Trad says. “We are ambassadors for OSU.”