We believe in the importance of giving Girl Pioneers female role models from all over the world who they can look up to and emulate at the MAIA Impact School. When they begin participating in Escuela Estrellita, a five-month preparatory program for rising seventh graders, each new cohort has the opportunity to name their mentorship group after powerful female leaders who motivate them to reach their dreams.
In 2017, our first cohort of 48 Girl Pioneers was divided into two mentorship groups and voted to call themselves the “Ana Sofía” and “Malala” groups, named for Ana Sofía Gómez, a 22-year-old Guatemalan gymnast and Olympic athlete, and Malala Yousafzai, a 20-year-old Pakistani activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her work advocating for girls’ education worldwide.
This past fall, our newest cohort of 48 rising 7th graders chose to name their mentorship groups after strong female role models as well. After learning about a number of female leaders, they voted to name themselves the Sara Curruchich and Rigoberta Menchú Tum mentorship groups. Sara Curruchich is a 24-year-old Mayan indigenous singer-songwriter from Chimaltenango, Guatemala. She is known for singing in both Kaqchikel and Spanish, and for using her voice as a way to resist oppression and advocate for indigenous peoples. Rigoberta Menchú Tum is a 59-year-old Mayan indigenous woman from Guatemala who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work promoting indigenous rights and fighting for agrarian reform in Guatemala, particularly during the 36-year civil war.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked several Girl Pioneers in each mentorship group to tell us why these remarkable female leaders inspire them. Below are their thoughtful responses.
Ana Sofía Gomez:
“What inspires me is that she is capable of doing something very important in her life: to have the courage to be a woman, to have the right to be a beautiful, intelligent woman. Women are capable of having something better, specifically speaking of Ana Sofía Gomez, who is an international winning athlete. She is Guatemalan, is now giving classes to girls, has won many medals, and is a champion. She is going even further than what she wants.” – Cindy Keila Cosigua Chiroy, 8th grader
“Ana Sofía inspires me because she overcame obstacles and chased her dreams and goals until she achieved them. She was very perseverant and innovative because now she’s creating a clothing business. She is an educator to other girls in gymnastics and has put our country’s name on high. She won many medals for Guatemala and teaches us that we can achieve whatever dream we have.” – Ingrid Estefany Tuy Yaxón, 8th grader
“Malala is a great woman! She is a brave, caring, and entrepreneurial person who I admire a lot and I want to be like. She fought for education and for this reason I want to be like her and do something professional. I admire her and I value her as an empowered woman.” – Claudia Marisol Zerat Chiyal, 8th grader
“Malala inspires me a lot because she is a woman who has persevered a lot and had many successes. She has fought for girls’ education and has won the Nobel Peace Prize. She is an outstanding woman on the international level and is an example for all women to follow. I am very happy that my group is named after her and she has a lot of courage. Because of that, I have become the person I am today, a MAIA Impact School student. Malala has been a light that has guided me and illuminated my path in all moments. Thank you, Malala.” – Brenda Nohemí Guarcax Mendoza, 8th grader
“Sara inspires me because she is a brave woman who overcame the obstacles in her personal life.” – Diana Ben, 7th grader
“When I met her, she told us that people laughed at her because she was indigenous but she didn’t give up. I loved how she sang and it impressed me how she could sing in Kaqchikel and defend women and her indigenous sisters. Because she didn’t give up she is now very well known because she sings and the most important part is that she never gave up and used the competency of resilience.” – Lucero Abigail Julajuj Tuiz, 7th grader
Rigoberta Menchú Tum:
“She inspires me because she has fought even though she has not had her family by her side. I want to fight to be a leader.” – Jaquelin Bocel, 7th grader
“She inspires me because she was a fighter for her people and thanks to her we have peace [in Guatemala]. She also inspires me so that I can push forward.” – Katherinne Alexandra Vasquez Pilo, 7th grader
As you can tell, there is tremendous power when girls have strong female figures as role models. They identify with these women and can expand how they define the realm of possibility in their own lives. As they look toward the examples set by these remarkable women, each Girl Pioneer at the MAIA Impact School can confidently say, “my impact is infinite.”
Who are the strong female leaders that you admire? How have they influenced you? Let girls at the MAIA Impact School motivate you! Share this post with a strong woman that you look up to in your daily life.
This is the third piece in a short blog series dedicated to the important contributions that women have made throughout history and continue to make in our world. The first two blog posts in the series are “Unite with Girl Pioneers and #PressforProgress” and “Her Infinite Impact: Chonita’s Story of Determination.”