As not only mentees but mentors as well, the recipients of the 2013 American Banker Young Women's Leadership Award demonstrate how the next wave of female leaders already is making an impact.
Fatima Sam, a Syracuse University freshman, was in eighth grade when she became involved in a leadership development initiative started by New York Yankees star Derek Jeter. Assigned a mentor when she joined, Sam later became a mentor herself, providing guidance to a younger program participant from another high school.
Sejla Ali, a freshman at Hunter College in New York, also has been both mentee and mentor, the latter as part of her work with Restorative Justice, a group at her high school that works with students and administrators to prevent tensions among classmates from becoming outright problems within the school's halls.
Both Sam and Ali graduated in the spring from Manhattan's Leadership & Public High School, which has worked with American Banker for the past three years to identify candidates for the Young Women's award. Applicants must be strong students who exhibit significant leadership potential and are the first in their families to attend college. Winners receive a $5,000 scholarship.
This year's recipients promise to bring a multicultural sensibility to their chosen fields of study. Sam, who spent six years in her family's native Senegal, speaks four languages including French and Arabic and has a thirst to help and promote the wellness of women worldwide. The leader she most admires is Hawa Abdi, the human rights activist and physician who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for her work in Somalia providing medical care primarily to women and children. Influenced by her role model, Sam is enrolled in Syracuse's pre-med program. As a backup, she plans to minor in business.
Ali, who was born in Kosovo and lived there until she was 10, speaks four languages and plans to major in political science. She says President John F. Kennedy is the leader she would have most liked to have a conversation with, and the Peace Corps, which he created, is something she's considering joining after college.