In her interview on yesterday’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, Clemantine Wamariya described several people who have influenced her as she seeks to make a difference in the lives of the forgotten citizens of the world. Here, an excerpt of that interview, in which Clemantine describes the people who have had the greatest impact on her:
1. “My sister, Claire”
Wamariya describes her sister as a ” Great example of a person who rises above all,” adding, in her interview, that “She was a born leader, she was a born entrepreneur. No question about that. Her ambition from age 15—deciding not to settle for less in refugee camps… Her life, for me, has been such a motivation—it just humbles me.”
2. Tom Bernstein, President and Co-Founder of Chelsea Piers, L.P.
“Tom Bernstein has been one of my mentors; he is President and Co-Founder of Chelsea Piers, New York, and also Vice-Chair of Human Rights First. He is also a leader of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.”
“He has been an incredible champion… I believe he sees Clemantine fifty years from now. He met me when I was 17 years old—I was junior in high school—I had no idea. I was excited to graduate from high school; I had no idea about college. And he decided to be my mentor, and my sponsor. And he has sponsored me, and guided me, to places that I never otherwise imagined myself. And he gave me leadership positions—and not in terms of title, just by saying “Clemantine, there’s this young girl from Afghanistan. It would be really great if you could give her some guidance on college.” … So he always saw what was in me, and gave me opportunity, and gave me permission, to be myself.
“And that in itself is so admirable and humbling, and I want to be that for other people. And that’s my work—I want to connect young people to opportunities the way that Tom Bernstein has connected me to opportunities, and people, and ideas. There’s no better way of being a mentor that by opening doors and challenging your mentee, and he has done that for me.”
3. Tsitsi Masiyiwa (@t_masiyiwa)
“An entrepreneur and philanthropist from Zimbabwe, but she lives all over the world, doing incredible work. She sponsors over 40,000 young people in Africa, to make sure they receive the best education, so they go on forth to be the leaders that she knows they are. And most of her students are called “history makers”—and they are across the world getting the top education…
“Her work is very subtle, it’s very quiet, and her organization is called Higher Life Foundation. [Both Masiyiwa and her husband Strive] have been great guiders and mentors… just reminding us that there is an opportunity to guide people—even a whole continent—and that guidance begins by investing in young people, by investing in their time, their education, their health…
“I cannot wait to continue seeing her work, and learning from her.”