Tererai Trent: Meet Oprah’s All-time Favorite Guest

September 20 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Achieving Greatness Through Education

Recently, I dreamed I forgot I had one last exam to take before graduating college. I woke up in a cold sweat, remembering those many all-nighter study sessions. But I have to admit that I kind of miss it.

There’s something so empowering about education. As you read, you expand your mind. As you listen, you become more inquisitive. And as you converse, you find a newfound power in your voice.


As we’ve mentioned before, so many girls throughout the world are not receiving the same access to education as boys. And it’s having a major worldwide impact. According to The Global Partnership for Education, some countries lose more than $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys.

An educated female population increases a country’s productivity and fuels economic growth. And when girls undertake a formal education, they grow into healthier women who have fewer children, yet work and earn more income, and become contributing members to society. And best yet, educated girls grow into educated women who are more likely to educate their own children.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Dr. Tererai Trent, Scholar, Humanitarian, Motivational Speaker, Educator, Author and Founder of Tererai Trent International

Dr. Tererai Trent was one such little girl who didn’t have access to a formal education, but through determination, hard work and belief in her dreams, earned several degrees and became a prominent advocate for universal access to quality education. Tererai’s tenacity and inspiring attitude even wowed talk-show host extraordinaire Oprah Winfrey, who called Tererai her “all-time favorite guest.”

Tererai grew up in poverty in rural Zimbabwe, where war and misogyny raged and access to education was a dream. Her father married her off when she was just 11, and by the time she was 18 years old, she was married to an abusive husband with three children. But then a little luck came into her life. Jo Luck, that is, the president and CEO of nonprofit aid group Heifer International, who, while passing through Tererai’s village, told her, “If you believe in your dreams, they are achievable.” Inspired, Tererai wrote down several goals—some would say unattainable dreams—to get an education, put them in a tin can and buried them under a rock.

After that significant moment in her life, Tererai began pursuing those dreams with vigor. She worked for Heifer International and some Christian organizations in her community, applying her new income toward correspondence courses. Then, in a move that would change her life, Tererai was accepted to Oklahoma State University. She left Zimbabwe with her five children, thanks, in part, to the aid group, as well as her mother, who sold a cow, and her neighbors, who sold their goats to help raise money for Tererai’s excursion to America.

She and her family struggled as she pursued her education, but she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, then pursued her Ph.D. at Western Michigan University. Later, Tererai founded Tererai Trent International, an important organization that works to provide children access to education, and empower rural women and girls the world over. Through her strategic partnerships, 11 schools have been constructed in her native Zimbabwe, and she has helped improve education for more than 5,000 children. But that’s only the beginning for this world changer.

Tererai is an excellent wordsmith. Her recent book, titled The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can, is a wonderful, inspiring read, particularly for young readers. She’s also an amazing motivational speaker, has delivered the keynote speech at the UN Global Compact Summit and is speaking today at the National Association of Women Business Owners Conference, where On The Dot is a proud sponsor!

Tererai’s life story moves me to ask this question: Are you brave enough to follow your dreams?


Right Honourable Justine Greening, a member of Parliament and the UK Secretary of State for Education, said:

“Women’s economic empowerment is one of the biggest potential levers to boost global prosperity. No country can develop if half of its population is locked out.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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