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  • Writer's pictureAmara Leggett

Top 5 Rising Women In 2018

Updated: May 15, 2019

In celebration of International Day of Girl on October 11, 2018, I want to share 10 Young Legends that are rising up to become powerful women of the world. This important day stemmed from the theme “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force.” Most often a power woman has a group of other outstanding women supporting and rooting for her success. This is a chance to advocate for the power that women can hold if they are given the right resources.

I recently spoke at an event called “She is Unstoppable: She Can. She Will. She do.” hosted by Role Model Magazine and this was to empower the new generation of girls. I sat on the branding panel to discuss business, social media, and women empowerment. The main topic was how everyone can truly achieve success in all areas, like business, education, the non-profit sector, and life.

“If you don’t see the book you want read on the shelf? Write it.” - Beverly Clearly

I never saw a curly-haired girl like me value education in the way that I did, enough to graduate high school & college at 16 years old. I never saw a teenager wearing a blazer with a topic on business on the cover of a book. I am proud to say that I became the author I dreamed to see on the shelf.

Top 5 Women Changing The World in 2018

Kennedy Watkins

Kennedy is 15 years old and an aspiring digital nomad. She is enjoys coding software and games. She discovered programming in third grade when she attended a summer computer programmer camp where she learned Scratch. As a sophomore in high school, this year she is in a “One Laptop per Child” class that develops Scratch lessons to travel and teach kids in Barbados how to use that knowledge.

Kennedy feels “if you believe in yourself, you can do anything you set your mind to with determination.” She plans to own a business making websites and build software for companies remotely. Traveling as a programmer will allow her to blend two interests, seeing the world and programming the world’s technology.

Nya Cunningham

Nya's stunning photos accurately portray how great of a dancer she is, but they do no justice for her artistry. She has choreographed her own dance pieces and written poetry. She does so much for her community as a Ballet in the City and Brown Girls Do Ballet ambassador. She travels the country studying under teachers like Desmond Richardson of Complexions Dance Academy and Lauren Anderson, one of the first African American ballerinas that became a principal for a popular dance academy. Nya has danced in Debbie Allen’s production of Brother’s of the Knight and at the American Ballet Theatre with Misty Copeland.

As a representative for the African American dance community, she loves to participate in community outreach by speaking to students and performing for organizations. She trains at the Dance Institute of Washington to be a contemporary ballet dancer for companies in the future, especially with Alvin Ailey. She also plans to start a scholarship fund for inner city girls to train to be a professional dancer as well as start her own dance company and school.

Zandra Cunningham

Zandra is the CEO of Zandra Beauty, a skincare company doing social good. At 18 years old, her business is valued at almost $500,000 with over 40 different products. She started her company at 9, Azariah’s Innocence, that has blossomed into Zandra Beauty. Her company once consisted of lip balms and shea butter, but has expanded to moisturizers, vegan soap, and lotion. In addition to being an entrepreneur that has been featured on the Today Show, ABC News, and Black Enterprise, she also educates and empowers girls about inner beauty. She provides roles for young ladies to be ambassadors for the brand and make their own source of income.

Hanalei Swan

Hanalei is 11-year-old fashion designer that travels the world speaking and modeling. She has spoken in Australia, Hongkong, and London on many topics including how education is the new experience. She started designing clothes at 7 and never looked back with her company and foundation. She has lived abroad since before she could walk, experiencing beautiful places and amazing people.

She founded HS Styles as a socially conscious fashion brand that supports education for children through the Unstoppable Foundation. From a sketchbook to an studio owner, she crafts clothing that represents her mission for women and girls to live their dreams now.

Lauren Simmons

Lauren is the only full-time woman trading at the New York Stock Exchange. At 23 years old, she trades equity for Rosenblatt Securities and the youngest to hold that position. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Genetics and minor in Statistics, she found a position that matched what she always enjoyed doing, working with numbers.

Lauren has paved a path for others to achieve financial success on the trading floor, but she is not the only woman to leave a legacy. In 1967, Muriel Siebert was the first woman eligible to trade on the floor, even without bathrooms specific to females. When others told Lauren that she would not pass the exam for floor traders to earn their badge, she knew she had to prove them wrong. Since being featured by CNBC and being added to Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 list, another full-time woman trader has joined the floor.

These 5 young ladies have risen tremendously in 2018 by following their passion.

You have the potential to pursue what you love to do or join the world of advocacy. Leverage what makes you stand out from the crowd. Build a positive brand and rise up in the world of power. There are so many women who make an impact on their community, that if I listed them all, this blog post would go on forever. This is also means that you have a large network of like-minded individuals that understand your hustle and mission to change the world. Do not hesitate to connect with them via Instagram, LinkedIn, or through their website.

“There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.” - W.E.B. Dubois


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