IIE Blog Opening Minds
IIE Blog Opening Minds

Second Inspirational Speaker Meets with HER Girls to Provide Perspective

By: Edie Cecil on Friday, May 1, 2015

As part of IIE's Higher Education Readiness (HER) program, which provides young women in secondary school from underserved communities with a pathway to university, our team in the Addis Ababa office is organizing inspirational speakers to meet with the girls several times each semester. The speakers are Ethiopian women who have, despite challenges in their lives, become leaders in their field. The speakers are wonderful examples for the girls on what they can become if they focus, stay in school, and follow their dreams.

Ms. Yetnebersh Nigussei (center) meets with HER girlsThe most recent speaker, Ms. Yetnebersh Nigussei, an Ethiopian law practitioner, entrepreneur, and advocate for marginalized communities, met with the HER girls from both Addis Ketema and Fitawrari Schools. She talked to the girls about the challenges and inspirations she has had in her life—all of which have made her a more focused person, willing and able to give back to her community.

Ms. Nigussei, who is blind due to complications from meningitis at age five, has overcome many obstacles to reach where she is today She earned a Law Degree and a Master’s degree in social work from Addis Ababa University. Early on she made a commitment to herself that, if she succeeded, her life goal would be to give back to others. Throughout her life she has heard “she can’t do it,” but by having strong mentors, she has become a successful manager, a mother of two, and an advocate for the marginalized persons in her community.

Ms. Nigussei’s shared the following messages with the HER girls:

  • Be thankful for all that you have received, including being accepted as a HER girl. The girls responded that they were aware of this responsibility and pledged to do the following:
    • Share what I have with others;
    • Become a successful and responsible person; and
    • Fulfill my vision and score good results in my education.
  • You cannot be successful by only receiving; you must give back. If you are more generous, you will receive more.
  • Success is the ability to control and challenge yourself; you cannot succeed if you do not make mistakes.
  • If you don’t use your thinking ability, that will be a big loss.
  • You are lucky to receive this scholarship. You are a seed that fell on a good land. For this reason you need to do your best to grow strong. There is NO small career! Whatever you are responsible for, you should do it with full responsibility.

The HER girls loved having the opportunity to meet Ms. Nigussei. She is truly an inspiration and IIE is honored to have her be part of the HER family!


More information about the first graduating class of HER girls coming soon. To celebrate their successes and to assist with anticipated upcoming university costs, IIE has launched a fundraising campaign to help the HER girls off-set these expenses.

Read more about the campaign

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For more than nine decades, the Institute of International Education has been at the forefront of international education. The Opening Minds blog is IIE’s take on how this field continues to change. Here the Institute’s leaders will explore international educational exchange, global student mobility, institutional partnerships, international development, and other topics and trends that are shaping higher education around the world.

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