2011 Seattle Storm Women of Inspiration

2011 Women of Inspiration: Jessica Markowitz

The Seattle Storm is proud to announce our 2011 Women of Inspiration presented by Moss Adams LLP. As part of our commitment to the community and to inspiring women, four exceptional leaders with remarkable stories and achievements, have been selected to be honored at the Storm game on Aug. 5, 2011. Find out more about Jessica Markowitz, the founder of Richard's Rwanda-IMPUHWE and one of this year's honorees.

Age is not an obstacle for Jessica Markowitz. Though she is only a junior at Garfield High School in Seattle, she has become a leader and role model through her commitment to civic responsibility and community involvement. When she was only 11 years old, Jessica founded Richard's Rwanda-IMPUHWE, an organization that supports educational opportunities for girls in primary and secondary school in the rural area of Nyamata, Rwanda. The organization has raised over $100,000 to date. Jessica's efforts are about building and sustaining relationships, not just raising funds. Jessica believes in the power of providing a fishing pole, not just the fish.

What was your reaction when you heard you were selected as a 2011 Woman of Inspiration by the Storm?
I am incredibly humbled and very grateful to the Seattle Storm. I am filled with joy that I was chosen as the first youth recipient of the Seattle Storm 2011 Women of inspiration. It is truly a privilege and I accept this award in honor of all of the young people that are making a difference in the world, especially young Rwanda women.

What motivates/drives you to be your best?
When I was in sixth grade my family hosted a man named Richard Kananga, a Rwandan human rights activist working to build peace and reconciliation in his war-torn country. He educated me about the genocide and the traumatizing impacts it had on children, especially young girls. Many children lost their parents and suddenly became the heads of their households and could no longer afford to go to school. When I heard this I was shocked and upset. Girls my age did not have the opportunity to go to school and I felt that education should be a human right for every child. Richard Kanaga was my main inspiration who connected me to a group of impoverished orphan girls who could not afford school. This is where it began and I named our organization after him, Richard's Rwanda.

What motivates/drives you to be your best?
My motivation comes from understanding how privileged I have been to have access to an excellent education. I know that I am so lucky to have the opportunity to learn everyday and that is what motivates me to support others who do not have the same privileges as I do. I want to continue making a difference because education is a human right.

In your work, how have you seen role models make a positive difference in the lives of others?
Young women in Rwanda are incredible role models. On my first visit I met Rwandan students living it the capital, Kigali and once they heard about my project supporting girls in the rural village they in turn started their own chapter to help their fellow Rwandan sisters. They named their project 'Create A Smile.' The city girls started a community service project to mentor and help tutor the girls in the rural village. I was moved to tears when the membership grew to over 80 students. I'm deeply touched by their kind hearts and desire to make a difference in their own country.

2011 Women of Inspiration Homepage

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