Deafblind Harvard Grad Advocates for Equal Opportunities
Making strides toward change.
Muhammad made history in Rio as the first U.S. woman to compete in the Olympic Game in hijab and reached her goal of standing on the podium when she won bronze with the U.S. Women’s Saber Team. Ranked No. 7 in the world individually, Muhammad won gold with Team USA at the 2014 Senior World Championships and holds four bronze Senior World medals.
As a Muslim youth, Muhammad’s parents were in search of a sport for her to play where she could be fully covered. Fencing provided a unique opportunity where Muhammad could fulfill her desire to participate in sport and adhere to the tenants of her faith to cover her body. She began fencing at age 13 and never looked back.
Muhammad trains in New York City at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, an organization founded by Olympian Peter Westbrook to mentor inner-city kids through the sport of fencing. Muhammad, a three-time All-American, graduated from Duke University with a dual major in international relations and African studies, and a minor in Arabic. In 2014, Muhammad launched her own clothing company, Louella, which aims to bring modest fashionable clothing to the United States market.
She also is a sports ambassador, where she serves on the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative. She has traveled to various countries to engage in dialogue on the importance of sports and education.
The daughter of refugees, a Black woman, and disabled, Haben developed a powerful path to success, rooted in her belief that inclusion is a choice. We all have the power to advocate for positive change. Becoming a leader begins by role-modeling the change we need in this world. Haben provides valuable insights that help people become better leaders.
And as the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben Girma advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change, and Forbes recognized her in Forbes 30 Under 30. Haben travels the world consulting and public speaking, teaching clients the benefits of fully accessible products and services. Haben is a talented storyteller who helps people frame difference as an asset. She resisted society’s low expectations, choosing to create her own pioneering story. Because of her disability rights advocacy she has been honored by President Obama, President Clinton, and many others. Haben is also writing a memoir that will be published by Grand Central Publishing in 2019.
Haben has been featured extensively in media around the world, including the BBC, NBC, Forbes, NPR, and many more.
As the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna found herself in an environment where the phrase, “dream big,” constantly resonated in her mind. Her parents exuded a resilience that has allowed them to live stable lives in the “land of milk and honey,” and therefore has encouraged Augusta to obtain her share. Her wonderful familial and communal support explains why she has become a trailblazer in her community.
From being named one of forty Science Talent Search Finalists in the nation, to being invited to President Barack Obama’s Sixth Annual White House Science Fair and the 2016 White House United State of Women Summit, Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna’s work in oil well cementing demonstrates her tenacity and innovative mindset. In a day when so many youngsters are self-absorbed, it is a relief to know someone as selfless as Augusta. She is a servant leader, notable for her work with the Dancers of Imo Youth group, which raises funds for myriad projects in Nigeria through dance performances and appeals to her cultural roots.
Though accepted into all eight Ivy League institutions and MIT, Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna will bring her conscientious spirit to Harvard College, where she will study Bioengineering on a premedical track. At the onset of 2017, Augusta became a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree in the Energy category.
Her accomplishments speak to her passion for STEM and her hope to show disadvantaged students that their dreams can become reality through education, persistence and faith.