When I think about people whom I admire the most, outside my family, Melinda Gates is always at the top of the list. We all have people that we admire for various traits or achievements and we may aspire to possess those traits or realize those lofty achievements ourselves. It is not the wealth or celebrity fame that attracts me to the people on my short-list, but instead, it is the inner traits and character they demonstrate in the way they live their lives, their unassuming and selfless approach to life, and their genuine goodness of heart and soul as evidenced by their deeds. In this article, I want to expound on this further and share the Top 3 people I admire the most and detail the admirable qualities of the person at the top of that list, Ms. Melinda Gates.
Mother Teresa- a walking saint
Mother Teresa is canonized as a saint, but given that her lifetime overlapped with mine, I have memories of her time on earth and she certainly is one of the most admired people by billions of people besides me. In some ways, this choice feels like an unattainable goal in terms of trying to be like the person you admire, as I can never emulate the level of selflessness and pure generosity that she possessed. But I don’t think we need to replicate the traits and achievements of the person we admire for them to make the list. If we are aware of their behaviors and consciously work on improving ourselves every day to get one step closer to their admirable qualities, I believe that is a productive and positive accomplishment. This is my approach with Mother Teresa as I educated myself on her life and beliefs and teachings. She went into a leprosy colony in India during a time when the world believed that leprosy was extremely dangerous and contagious to the touch, and in the midst of that, she hugged and comforted and cared for the lepers that lived in the colony. This was as awe-striking an act as it was simple. In her own way, Mother Teresa showed the world that love conquers all and every human being is worthy of our love and God’s love. This is a core principle that I try to keep top of mind every day and live up to it as much as I can.
Malala Yousafzai- a self-sacrificing role model
Another person I admire, who has not achieved sainthood, but in my opinion, has transformed the world for young women around the world is Malala Yousafzai. Known around the world on a first-name basis, Malala is an activist for girls’ education and the youngest person ever to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize for her work. Her advocacy for human rights with an emphasis on the education of girls and children has spread into an international movement. Malala’s tolerance and forgiveness of the people who attacked and shot her in the head for her advocacy is an awe-inspiring capability that I look up to with great admiration. I also appreciate her articulate and clear communication style as she conveys her beliefs and promotes her ideas in plain and simple language that pierce through the mind and reach your heart and soul. It takes tremendous bravery to stand up for your beliefs in the midst of universal and even violent opposition all around you. I aspire to be as brave, tolerant, forgiving, articulate, convicted in my and self-confident as Malala Yousafzai.
Melinda Gates- an ambitious woman
Melinda Gates has not done the saintly acts as Mother Teresa or been as overtly brave as Malala Yousafzai in the face of mortal risk, but she is the most relatable and well-rounded role model in my opinion. She started off as an ordinary middle-class American woman who was academically strong in math and science and blessed to be raised with the mindset and encouragement to pursue her dreams. Through her hard work and dedication, she graduated from top schools, joined a small software company called Microsoft and rose through the ranks to be a senior manager in this firm that became the world’s largest company.
Melinda’s generosity and sincerity
But her second act in life is the one that caught my attention and that of the world. After gaining the status of being one of the world’s richest people along with her husband Bill Gates, Melinda embraced the biblical message of “from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” and operationalized it through the way she lived her life. She is the co-founder of the world’s largest philanthropic organization and has dedicated her wealth, energy, time, and influence to advance equality for women all around the world. The intensity and conviction with which she pursues this life mission is truly admirable and has taught me the importance of first gaining conviction in your beliefs and then being relentless about living your values and driving change in the world to realize the promise of those beliefs. I also admire the normalcy of the way Melinda lives her life and raises her family if that is possible for being one of the wealthiest and most recognizable people in the world. Her hands-on involvement in the raising of their children, the values and empowerment that she imparts upon them, and her down-to-earth way of living her life are all qualities that I deeply admire. She seems to be a role model who is “within reach” for the ordinary person and therefore makes her the most relatable person to me.
Why it all matters
It’s so important to recognize great women in society because females have not always had platforms to share their voices and express what they are passionate about. With the progression of society, women are becoming more respected as individuals. It’s our responsibility to recognize these women that are far more than a pretty face or “someone’s wife” because women have not always had this kind of respect or have been allowed to succeed in immense ways. Likewise, all of these women and many others who are not mentioned, serve as role models and a light of hope for young girls and women everywhere. They show that your gender does not define your success, but rather your intellect, character, and actions are much more important.
Admiring people is not about being a fan and following them for celebrity gossip or entertainment purposes. In my opinion, it is about learning lessons from these people who have characteristics and achievements that you want to emulate, and then applying these lessons in the way you live your life. As I reflect on my own admiration for influential women like Mother Teresa, Malala Yousafzai, and Melinda Gates, I am committed to doing just that and aspire to be even a fraction of the person they are in thoughts, beliefs, and deed.
Senior at FSU.