Maya Angelou by Zennie Abraham on flikr

First created in 2005, Inspirational Role Models the entire month of November is dedicated to those who inspire us with their remarkable deeds. What are some ways for you to be an inspirational role model? Think about the following 3 characteristics:

  1. Be a Good Listener. Listen eighty (80) percent of the time and respond or talk twenty (20%). That’s the magic ratio. People are inspired by your compassion and understanding when they truly feel heard and acknowledged.
  2. Own Your Flaws. Being authentic, owning mistakes, and apologizing takes courage. Unique backgrounds, distinct challenges, different paths are inspiration.
  3. Take Action. Be a person of action. Determine where there is a need. Use your brain, voice, and talent to fill that need. In honor of #InspirationalRoleModelsMonth,

Enjoy this list of inspirational women who have positively changed history and shaped our future.

Maya Angelou (1928–2014) Born as Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, she is a world-renowned author, poet, essayists, television writer, civil rights activist, as well as an actress, director, producer, and singer. Angelou is known for having a difficult and complicated childhood. When she was just eight years old, her mother’s boyfriend raped her causing her to go mute for almost five years afterward. She took the name Maya Angelou when she worked as a dancer/singer in a cabaret. Long after those days were gone, Angelou was questioned by a reporter about how she forgot what happened to her, she was quoted saying that she “never forgot” what happened to her, but that she used the incident as fuel to find her voice.

Malala Yousafzai by DFID – UK on flikr

Malala Yousafzai is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Pakistani social activist for female education worldwide. Malala became globally recognized when she survived shot to the head in a Taliban attack after she’d spoken out against the Taliban’s attack on girls schools via a blog she wrote for BBC. Malala has continued her activsim despite the terrifying and life threatening circumstances she’s faced.

Isabel Allenda by Wikimedia Commons

Isabel Allende hails from Lima, Peru. She is a distinguished Chilean-American writer who is considered one of the first, and one of the most successful and prominent figures in writing across Latin America. Allende faced much heart-ache during her time. In 1973 she was forced to flee Venezuela after her uncle was assassinated. In 1981 her terminally ill grandfather was inspired to write letters to her that later become her first novel titled The House of the Spirits. In 1992, she lost her daughter to a hereditary blood disease which inspired her first nonfiction novel titled Paula. Allende used these nonfiction profits to establish a foundation, supporting nonprofits aiding women and girls in both Chile and San Francisco, California. Allende utilized her writing gifts through the magic realism technique to pen her stories and they have touched countless lives.


Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, attorney, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide (Wiley 2015), now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Sophie Echeverry is the corporate marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Continuing her higher education at Texas State University, Hannah is set receive her Bachelor’s Degree in English, in 2019. She is a native Texan with a background in writing, sales, social media marketing and customer service. Hannah aspires to perfect her passion and craft of writing and hopes to one day become a novelist. With all the fantastic opportunities offered at Access to Culture, she is excited to be a new member of the team. Connect with her at Hannah Alvarado.