May 19, 2009

The Women I Want To Be

What do I want to be when I grow up (yes, I know, I am pretty much already there)? To assist me in this challenge, I have come up with a list of women whose career choices, style, and integrity inspire my ambitions.

1.) Maureen Dowd, Columnist, The New York Times

I like that "Mo Dowd," as I call her amongst my friends, covered the White House for several years while sporting a cute pair of heels. She's sassy, creative, incredible literate and intelligent, and she's one of two regular columnists at the world's largest newspaper. I admire her ability to blend a wry humor with a sense of immediacy about her column topics.

2.)Harvard University's JFK School of Government: Will Obama's Security Policy Be Inclusive? Panel: Josephine Abalang, Deputy Director of Public Relations, Office of the Vice President, Government of Southern Sudan; Orzala Ashraf, Founder and Senior Adviser, Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan; Rufa Guiam, Director of the Center for Peace and Development Studies at Mindanao State University-General Santos City, Philippines; Marini de Livera, National Project Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme's Women’s Empowerment Project, Sri Lanka; and moderated by Ambassador Swanee Hunt

In January, I attended a panel session at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, supported by the school's Women And Public Policy program. The panel consisted of four of the most accomplished women I have ever encountered. In their own way, each of these women have overcome some insurmountable odds to ascend to salient leadership positions. Each showed intelligence balanced with a calm humility that was quite humbling for me as an audience member. Every day, these citadels risk their lives to empower women and advocate for the welfare of their countries. I was particularly inspired by their love for their war-torn countries, taking up residence after almost losing their lives. The panel was moderated by the incomparable Ambassador Swanee Hunt, who has written prolifically on the inclusiveness of women in foreign policy.

3.) Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations

A recent article profiles newly-appointed US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. She's almost the youngest ambassador to the UN (save one past ambassador) and has an accomplished resume that includes a Rhodes Scholarship and the youngest assistant Secretary of State during the Clinton administration. I admire her accomplishments, her noted ability to stay in tremendous shape, her ability to balance an intense career with family, and just the fact that she gets to go work at the UN everyday. I love the UN. Or rather, I love the idea of the UN, what it tries to accomplish. One of my life goals is to work for the UN and seeing the poise, strength, and style of Ambassador Rice furthers my drive to make that dream a reality.

4.) Jhumpa Lahiri, author
Jhumpa Lahiri is an author to love. Her novel, The Namesake and two collections of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies and An Unaccustomed Earth have seen unprecedented global success. Her narrative style is incomparable in it's eloquent flow and vibrant imagery. Her text engulfs the reader and makes her stories incredibly real and poignant in their telling. I admire her skill, having a personal history that includes an undergraduate degree in English and my modest creative writing attempts. In the dark corners of my mind, shrouded in cobwebs, I hold this hope to one day also compose a stellar body of work, fueled, hopefully, by my richly-varied experiences.

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