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Michelle Bachelet

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria had an unusual road to her second office as President of Chile. Bachelet was originally elected to the presidency in 2006 becoming the first woman to serve as Chilean President. Following that original, and historic, term of office, she was appointed to serve as the first executive director of the newly created United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In 2014, she ran successfully for a second term. In addition to being the first woman president, she was also the first person to win the presidential election twice via competitive elections. Bachelet was born in a middle class suburb of Santiago. Her family was a military one and young Michelle spent her childhood traveling all over Chile from military base to military base. In 1962, the family relocated to the US, returning to Chile in 1964. She attended the University of…

Ellen Ochoa

American engineer and former astronaut, Ellen Ochoa is the Director of the Johnson Space Center. Selected by NASA in 1990, Ochoa is the also the first Hispanic woman to go into space, not just from the US, but from anywhere in the world. A classically trained flutist and California native, Ochoa holds a doctorate degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. While at Stanford, she researched optical systems for use in information processing. At the NASA Ames Research Center, she was an integral part of a research group working on establishing optical systems that automate space exploration. As though being the first Hispanic woman to go into space were not accomplishment enough, Ochoa went on to explore space repeatedly, eventually logging nearly 1,000 hours of space travel. Amazingly, she is now a veteran of four space missions. Her additional space missions include: STS-56 ATLAS-2 Discovery (1993) STS-66 Atlantis (1994…

Rosario Dawson

Rosario Dawson is an actress of Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican, Irish and Native American descent. Dawson’s first acting role came at age fifteen in the 1995 controversial teen drama, Kids. She was born in New York City where her family moved into an abandoned building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. They could not afford to pay rent, so in this abandoned building, the family worked together to install electrical wiring and plumbing turning the abandoned property into habitable housing, where the children were then raised. Dawson says this renovation taught her that if you wanted something better, you had to make it happen for yourself. This can-do spirit served the actress well on her career path. She followed her initial acting job with roles in He Got Game, Men in Black II, Rent, and Unstoppable. A celebrity with a heart, Rosario Dawson is an avid and vocal political…

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek is a Mexican-American actress and producer. Her career began in Mexico starring in the telenovela Teresa and the film Miracle Alley. Her role in this film earned her a nomination for the Ariel Award. She relocated to Hollywood in 1991. She gained popularity due in part to her sultry, exotic beauty and her role in Desperado in 1995. Her breakthrough role, though, came in 2002 when she played Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in the movie, Frida. This role garnered the actress nominations as Best Actress for the Academy Awards, BAFTA Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Golden Globe Award. Hayek was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico to a family of wealthy, devout Roman Catholics. As a child, she was diagnosed with dyslexia and with ADHD. She overcame these obstacles to attend college at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, where she studied International Relations. When she arrived…

Viola Davis

Viola Davis seemingly skyrocketed to fame, taking the American media by storm. An actor and producer, Viola is the only African American actress to be nominated for three Academy Awards. Currently starring as Annalise Keating in ABC’s hit program, How To Get Away With Murder, she started her acting career on the stage. Davis was born in St. Matthews, where her mother was a civil rights activist. Violas was jailed with her mother at two years old during a Civil Rights protest. The second youngest of six children, her family life was troubled and marred by abject poverty, dysfunction, and separation. When her family moved to Rhode Island, two of her older siblings were left behind with their grandparents. In Rhode Island, they lived in a series of subpar apartments. Davis graduated from Central Falls High School, where she fell in love with acting and the stage. She continued her…

Anousheh Ansari

Iranian-American engineer, Anousheh Ansari, was born in Iran and raised in Tehran. She immigrated with her family to the United States in 1984. Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from George Mason University and a Master’s Degree from George Washington University, she started her career at telecommunications giant, MCI. Ansari married in 1991 and two years later, convinced her husband and brother to start a new business in the telecommunications industry. The trio founded Telecom Technologies Inc., funding it with retirement funds and personal savings. Telecom fostered assimilation between existing telecommunication networks and next-generation networks by using software switching technology. They eventually sold this company. An enthusiastic champion of technology and social entrepreneurship, Anousheh had long hoped for a chance to experience the thrill of exploring space. Ansari’s family investment firm, Prodea, formed a partnership with Space Adventures, Ltd. and the Federal Space Agency of the…

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart has become an iconic American businesswoman. The founder of Martha Stewart Living, she’s found amazing success in a variety of business endeavors. Stewart has written several bestselling books, is involved in broadcasting, merchandising, and has branched into e-commerce. In addition to her best-selling line of products, her popular Martha Stewart Living magazine, and syndicated television shows have made hers a household name. Born in New Jersey into a middle-class family, Stewart is of Polish-American heritage. Always in possession of a strong work ethic, she began babysitting when she was only ten years old for the children of team members of the New York Yankees, including Gil McDougald, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra. At fifteen, she started modelling and doing television commercials. She continued to model while attending Barnard College, majoring in European History and Architectural History. Following her marriage, Stewart began her career as a stockbroker. She and…

Barkha Dutt

Indian television journalist, Barkha Dutt, is noted for her reporting on the frontline of the Kargil Conflict between India and Pakistan during the war in 1999. While women have made great strides in the world of wartime and investigative journalism, she has set herself part in a career often dominated by men. Born in New Delhi to prominent parents, she credits them with rousing her interest in journalism and journalistic integrity. The influence of her father, an Air India official and journalist, and her mother, also a well renowned woman journalist in India, is apparent in her career and that of her sister, both of whom are journalists. Barkha Dutt is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. She went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Mass Communications from Jamia Millia Islamia Mass Communication Research Center. She eventually earned a second…

Teocah Dove

Women are often acknowledged for the great strides they make in their careers. Teocah Dove received awards and recognition for her dedication to volunteerism. She started volunteering when she was only sixteen years old. Named one of The Queen’s Young Leaders Award recipients, she takes her place in history for her commitment to serving others. Dove’s perspective on helping others live abundant lives is evident in the following quote. “As I understand my calling, I reminisce on Hafsat Abiola’s quote, ‘Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are. She goes on to say, “One of my main aims is to empower others to achieve their maximum potential, secure their space, and contribute all…

Captain Maria Urso

Historically, it was a rarity to see women serve in the military in any capacity. Today’s military women do it all. These courageous women lead command airstrikes, are fighter pilots, fight in combat, and serve as Navy Seals. They also serve in many scientific and healthcare related military fields. In 2012, Captain Maria Urso received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from then President Barak Obama. What led to this historic achievement? Urso earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Rhode Island and followed it with a Master of Science Degree in Kinesiology from the same institution. She went on to earn a degree as a Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts. In 2006, Maria Urso was commissioned into the Army and served four years as a captain. She found this work intriguing and fulfilling enough to stay on…