By Dylan Moloney and Shabel Castro
Writer, journalist, beauty contestant, role model for young girls: all these words describe Fatima Sesay, a Lehman alumna who was editor in chief of the Meridian and most recently the winner of the 2012 U.S-Africa Ambassadorship competition.
On November 10, Sesay won the 2012 US-Africa Ambassadorship competition that took place in New York City where she competed against 11 others girls for $1,000, an ipad, and the tiara.
The US-Africa Ambassadorship pageant’s objective is to identify young African women who are dedicated to being an example to other African girls and to encourage women leadership and entrepreneurship within the African community.
The 22-year-old represented Sierra Leone, West Africa in the competition from which she immigrated in 2001. Sesay came to the U.S to meet her family from her father’s side as well as to chase the “american dream” in hopes of a better future.
Since her graduation last spring, Fatima has been working two jobs, one working with Applause Africa an international quarterly publication and the other for Sahara Reporters, an online publication that concentrates on human rights abuses, corruption, and political misconducts in Nigeria.
Sesay’s platform was on the importance of early childhood education, something that proved to be a good choice for the competition. “I chose education because it is a very important part of my life. I’ve been in school for as long as I can remember, (…) I know that education is needed in this society to make an honest living. I’m not saying it is the only way, but I know that it make things a lot easier when you are out in the real world.”
Although the competition was strong, Sesay had a confident attitude about her platform, something that became apparent to the judges. Sesay stated, “Going into the Ambassadorship program, I already had the mindset that I had won and I believe that we all won that night. It is amazing to see fellow young women coming together for a great cause. We all had strong platforms, and it takes bravery and conviction to be able to stand in front of a large crowd and tell the world how you feel we can progress.”
After months of preparation and many interviews, on November 10th Sesay was named the 2012 US-Africa Ambassadorship winner. As the winner of this competition Sesay is expected to become a mentor to young African girls through the participation of mentorship programs and organizations that urge these young girls to have a voice by using mediums such as that of leadership and education, something that Fatima has already initiated.
“I recently joined the Children’s Education Alliance (CEA), a non-profit organization focused on helping underprivileged children of Africa achieve their academic goals through scholarships and sponsorship opportunities.” She added, “Besides working with the other US-Africa Ambassador, I am also going to put together fundraisers so that CEA can send supplies back home.” In collaboration with this organization, during the month of September Sesay raised and sent money to Guinea to cover books, pencils, and pens for over 200 children. With the holiday spirit in mind, Sesay is now trying to raise money to send gifts to the children in Guienea. Within a year she hopes to raise enough money to sponsor and give supplies to a greater number of children.
Sesay hopes to take everything she learned from the competition to further her goals and dreams of opening a non-profit in Sierra Leone. An organization that she hopes can one day empower children from her community by assisting them in getting school supplies and the necessary learning skills to survive. She plans to travel the world and document her travel. Most importantly, she looks forward to using her title as the 2012 US-African Ambassador to work with many organizations and inspire young African children.
“Being an Ambassador has taught me so much already, and I can’t wait to see the look of the children’s eyes when I work with them.”