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UN's Girl-Up Conference Interview
Distinguished Alumni Acceptance Speech
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About Shelmina Abji

Shelmina was born in Mwanza, Tanzania. Her parents had very little money but always instilled in her the importance of an education. Although not monetarily rich they were abundantly rich in family values and love. Even at a very young age, determined to make her parents happy she focused diligently on her studies and got excellent grades. At 15 years old Shelmina completed 10th grade and had to leave home in order to obtain a higher education. She initially moved to Dar-es-Salaam to finish high school and then to Pune in India for a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. She brought back and sold clothes from India to help pay for her tuition and her airfare to see her parents during summer. Being far away from home was difficult for her as writing letters was her only form of communication with her family who did not own a phone. It was obvious that Shelmina was bright, optimistic, eager to learn, and not to mention, stubborn; nothing would get in her way of an education. Shelmina was the first person in her family to obtain a college degree. With a degree in hand, she had zero indication as to what she wanted to do and then came upon an article on computer science while reading a magazine. In order to pursue such she would have to move to the United States.  

Shelmina Abji's Journey

Leadership & Experience

UN Girl Up Advisory Council United Nations Foundation - Girl Up

aedc-logo Former Co-Chair Asian Executive Diversity Council

Testimonials

“Whenever a woman I have spoken to tells me I have influenced her positively, it energizes me to do more. It is my desire to empower young women everywhere.” - Shelmina

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Topics of Empowerment

Own your power!

The power with which you show up impacts all your interactions and outcomes. Shelmina talks about her journey of self discovery and how she learned to own and amplify her personal power through self awareness, conscious choices, self confidence and self belief.

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Shape your life's story
Regardless of what your current state is, Shelmina talks about how you can own the power to shape your life's story and consciously awaken our greatness. You are the author, you own the narrative- learn how to flip the script by rewiring your thoughts to change the way your life unfolds.

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Transcend Fear
Choice is a fundamental power of the human experience. We own the choice to use fear as a platform to propel us forward or to limit us. Shelmina talks about how she gained strength, courage and confidence by each experience in which she faced fear and used gratitude to overcome it.

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Consciously Build Your Personal Brand
What people say about you when you are not in the room impacts your career and relationships at many levels. You own the power to choose how people see and interpret you. Shelmina provides tools and guidance on how to consciously build your current as well as your aspirational brand.

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Intentional Attention
Energy flows where attention goes. Shelmina talks about how every decision is an opportunity to move closer to or away from your success. She shares tools to become conscious of your choices so you are constantly moving towards your success and not get distracted by “noise”.

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Make your mental chatter work for you
Your thoughts and words have tremendous power. Your self talk can build or belittle you. Think good of yourself as the world takes you at your own estimate. Shelmina gives you tools to become conscious of your self talk and use it to empower yourself.

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Consciously Adding Value
Our value is determined by our contributions. At our hectic pace, we tend to run on autopilot and we often don’t see what’s really needed of us, we may not appreciate the impact we have, and we may not be aware of the unique ways we can create or add value. Shelmina talks how to model possibility and consciously add value.

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Success through clarity, competence and confidence
Shelmina talks about building a step ladder of clarity, competence and confidence to remain relevant and rise to your personal best. Express your talents, elevate yourself and create an upward spiral for continued success.

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Shine your brightest
Shelmina talks about how to show up shining courageously regardless of the circumstances. Your brightness will inspire everyone you interact with to also shine - creating a magnetic force which is unstoppable. Amplify the positive and boost greatness in each other to consistently deliver outstanding results. Don’t let anything dim your brightness.

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Increase your self belief
One can never rise above one's self belief. Shelmina discusses her life’s journey and the tools she uses to increase her self confidence and self belief. Self belief will ensure you never trade your uniqueness and authentic self for momentary validation from outside. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.

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Turn adversity into a gift for growth
Shelmina discusses her life stories where every challenge or adversity was a gift from which she learned to grow. She encourages everyone to proactively step outside of their comfort zone to realize their maximum potential. Build the mindset of a victor and not a victim.

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Work/Life integration
Shelmina learned to balance, prioritize and be present to successfully raise two children since they were 2 and 4 while excelling at work. She will share how she learned to set boundaries and say “no” to great but irrelevant opportunities that did not take her closer to her definition of success.

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