By: Djoudie Etoundi ’12
On Friday November 26th, Thunderbird’s Global Cohort, made of 27 Haitian women from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Program, received their Thunderbird degrees under the tutelage of US Ambassador At Large for Global Women’s issues, Melanne Verveer and following a spirited, proverb rich keynote address by Ambassador Barbara Barrett.
The Global Cohort took in 27 selectees from Haiti out of 400 applicants to the 10,000 Women Program as full T-Bird alumns after a grueling two week course expanding their skills in Marketing, Accounting, Finance and Management. If any of you are wondering why you didn’t get to see more of them on campus, it’s because these women had classes from 8 AM to 6 PM on most days, followed by a strict schedule of trips and functions on the weekends. As for those of us who had volunteered to help as general facilitators, translators, runners (translators during classes) and panel members. We gained a unique insight about their life stories and the struggles they had had to overcome to be with us on campus. Having been previously involved with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Program during my internship in Rwanda, where I witnessed the dearth of basic skills keeping entrepreneurial women from reaching their full potential, I was startled by the generally high level of skills of their Haitian counterparts. We aspiring alumns should know these new T-Bird alumni in our network include a civil engineer, a computer engineer, a banking executive with a 25 year experience and a lawschool graduate; their companies’ activities cover infrastructure and building construction, civil engineering, textiles and women’s undergarments, IT consulting and Marketing services. In both domains the list is non-exhaustive.
A special mention should be made of the particularly forceful and energetic Gilberte Salomon, who despite her years (She claims to be more than 100.), did not prevent her from starting a network of schools teaching medical and paramedical skills, called Institut Louis Pasteur of Haiti Institute in spite of her years. A network she sustained through the terrible ordeal of Haiti’s 2010 Earthquake, long before the Goldman Sachs program came along. This persistence is a recurring theme in these women’s accomplishments before and during the program.
Davina Rachelle Celestin, runs a dance school in Haiti and her aim to show everyone how relax leisurely through various dance and musical forms. She showcased her talent with a short performance. [Video linked below]
Another theme is emotion, which increased steadily throughout the two weeks of their presence: first emotion in their attachment to the 10,000 Women Program Manager, Amy Scerra, whose dedication and passion which bound this sisterhood. Emotion also for the recognition bestowed on their accomplishments and their potential as entrepreneurs, in particular during the session with Paula Noble which brought many of them to tears. Emotion finally in the support given by Ambassador Barrett whose life story, simple deeds and visionary words inspired them at graduation.
To all those who haven’t had the opportunity to work with the 10,000 Women Program yet, I heartily recommend it as a way to expand both your professional networks as well as your horizons