Every day is a good day for a story about perseverance. So, thanks to Susan Schonfeld, I’ve chosen Tererai Trent as today’s #womenshistorymonth pick. Born in 1965 in what was then known as Rhodesia, Trent believes her life was shaped by the cultural practices & war that marked her early childhood. She was not allowed to attend school, although her brother did, & she was able to teach herself to read and write from his school books. When her father eventually acquiesced and let her attend classes, it was short lived, b/c he accepted a dowry and Trent was married off. With no diploma and three children by age 18, she had limited options and a husband who beat her for wanting more. In 1991, she met Jo Luck from @HeiferInternational, who went to every woman in the village and asked them what their dreams were. Trent said she wanted to go to America, & earn a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and eventually a PhD. Encouraged by her mother Shamiso, whose name means “one who holds miracles,’ Trent wrote her dreams in a tin can and buried them for safekeeping.
“As a woman without an education, life will continue to be a burden,” Trent wrote. “I truly believe in these dreams, and I hope one day to work for the causes of women and girls in poverty.”
In 1998 she moved to Oklahoma. In 2001 she earned her bachelor’s in agricultural education. In 2003 she earned her master’s in plant pathology, and her abusive husband was deported. In 2009 she earned her doctorate. In 2013 she earned another masters — this time in public health. After every accomplishment she went home to her village in #Zimbabwe and unearthed her tin, checking off each goal. Trent also worked for Heifer, studied HIV + AIDS prevention for women in Africa, as a fellow at UCSF, and was the keynote speaker at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit. Trent’s love for Zimbabwe continues with the formation of Tererai Trant International, dedicated to universal education in Zimbabwe. 11 schools are currently under construction. Today, Trent teaches at #Drexel University, is remarried to a plant pathologist, and is the mother of five children. #shepersisted#educationforgirls#freedomtodream#womensrights Thanks @oprah!