Dr. Tererai Trent, founder of Tinogona Foundation and inspirational speaker, has touched millions with her story—including Oprah Winfrey, who chose Dr. Trent as her “all-time favorite guest” after 25 years and more than 30,000 guests. Because of her amazing never-give-up attitude and desire to give back to others, Dr. Trent's life is an inspiration and a lesson in perseverance.
Dr. Trent is also featured in Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a New York Times bestseller written by columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
In inspiring keynotes, Tererai Trent passionately commands a room as she talks about the power of dreaming with a purpose, the importance of education, women’s empowerment and the four Ps of women in leadership: power, passion, purpose, and procreation. Her eloquence and rich authenticity leave audiences with a lasting impression of what it means to overcome humble beginnings and to achieve one's dreams.
As a child growing up in a cattle-herding family in rural Zimbabwe, Dr. Trent dreamed of getting an education. Married young and the mother of three by age 18; she was bound to an abusive husband who beat her when she expressed her desire to learn. But Dr. Trent was undeterred. She met Jo Luck, a woman who worked for Heifer International and inspired the young mother with the words, “If you desire your dreams they are achievable.” Without a high school diploma and with only her mother’s encouragement to aim high, Tererai subsequently wrote down her five dreams on a scrap of paper; going to America to achieve a bachelor's, a master’s degree, and a doctorate degree along with the seemingly insurmountable goal of giving back to her community.
Sealed the list of dreams in a tin can, and buried the tin under a rock. In doing so, she became her own dream keeper and broke down the vicious cycle of poverty in her life despite facing incredible odds and many obstacles.
Today, Tererai earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in the United States. Now, through her organization Tinogona, which means “it is achievable” in her native language, she is working to realize the last dream— “giving back to her community by creating educational opportunities for girls and women in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
In partnership with Oprah Winfrey and Save the Children, Dr. Trent is rebuilding 9 schools in her native country and improving learning for more than 4,000 girls and boys.
Currently an adjunct professor in Monitoring & Evaluation in Global Health at Drexel University, School of Public Health, Dr. Trent is a senior consultant with more than 18 years of international experience in program and policy evaluation, and has worked on five continents for major humanitarian organizations. As a fellow at the Center of AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at UC San Francisco, Dr. Trent conducted research on HIV prevention in Sub Saharan Africa with a special focus on women and girls.