Since graduating from Westminster College in 2008, Shauna Aminath has put the global leadership, service, and activism values she learned here to good use in her home country of the Maldives. Her fight for democracy following a Maldives military takeover has landed her in jail twice and in headlines all over the world. We were proud to welcome Shauna back to Westminster to share her experiences with political activism and global leadership.
While visiting Westminster from March 18-22, Shauna presented her story in ten classrooms and met with first-year honors seminar and a forum class. She made two public presentations including one at Rotary Club in Fulton, and she met with six faculty/staff/student groups including Young Democrats and College Republicans and Ecohouse, of which she was a founding member. Shauna also participated in a human rights discussion with Ambassador Robin Sanders who was on campus as the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. In addition, she contributed Westminster's recent 3-Day Footsteps for Peace program which involved observing a refugee simulation and attending a peacemaking workshop in which 17 countries were represented.
Quotes from Faculty, Staff, and Students
"For me, Shauna is a perfect example of what it means to be a leader from within; that is, Shauna is very centered and very genuine, so completely herself--and therefore she doesn't seek leadership, but naturally finds herself in leadership positions. When I asked her why she was so committed to the cause of democracy in The Maldives, in spite of the personal risks she takes every day, she simply said, "how could I do otherwise?" I am particularly thankful for the model she provides for other women, especially since I have three daughters who grew up with Shauna often in our home. My daughters knew her as a fun-loving student, but one who was openly passionate about many issues. They now know her as a global leader who did not let fear or complacency stop her from acting on her commitment to those things she values. I also appreciated how well Shauna articulated the role Westminster played in her life, and I hope we can play some small part in inspiring many other leaders like her."
Dr. Carolyn Perry
VP/Dean of Faculty
"I greatly appreciate the time and energy that Shauna Aminath devoted to our students during her time as a Global Leader in Residence. Our Honors Program students adored Shauna, whose ambition, eloquence, and integrity inspired them to put their own knowledge to work on behalf of their communities. The impact of her visit will continue to resonate with these students long after her return to the Maldives."
Dr. Heidi LaVine
Honors Program Director
Assistant Professor of English
"Shauna Aminath's visit to Westminster as our "Global Leader in Residence" was for me and for our students a wonderful, affirming, inspiring experience. Shauna revealed in her knowledge and communications skills the value of a Westminster liberal arts education. She demonstrated what it truly means to be a leader in the global community. She showed how to fight democracy, human rights, and sustainability in a brave, dignified and peaceful way. She showed how to lead a life of success, significance and service. I was so, so proud of her, so inspired by her, so glad that I had her as a student and now as a friend. I hope we can bring Shauna back to Westminster one day to deliver the Green Lecture as the first woman to be elected as the President of the Maldives."
Dr. John Langton
Political Science Department
"Shauna, taught me how to demand my basic human rights through peaceful means. She taught me to think, organize and execute a peaceful strategy, without forgetting the outcomes. I leaned from her that people have greater power when they are united. I felt that she was a brilliant on delivering her message and ideas. She is indeed among the people I most admire."
Mula Sid Ahmed Ahmed
"Having Shauna on campus last week brought to life the positive outcomes of a Westminster College education. She is mature, poised, self-confident, knowledgeable, and passionate about the causes for which she is fighting so hard. Her presentations to the Fulton Rotary Club and the prospective students during Welcome to Westminster were inspirational. I was also impressed by the way in which she interacted with our current students. She was able to put her Westminster experience into perspective and connect her learning in college to her leadership within the democracy movement of the Maldives. She reminded our students that the dedication of faculty and staff along with the meaningful opportunities for learning in all contexts make the Westminster education so powerful. She encouraged all our students to make a difference on campus and wherever they find themselves."
President Barney Forsythe
"Shauna's visit was an inspirational experience for our campus community. As a "Global Leader in Residence," she stood out for her passion and dedication to the fight for democracy in her home country, the Maldives. Her visit to Westminster was all the more impactful for our students because of the combination of her youth and accomplishments. She not only brought a message of human rights awareness and peaceful political activism, but also a powerful message that young people can change the world."
Jenny Bondurant '96
Executive Director of Marketing and Communications
"The students in EDU 385, Diversity in Education, were extremely interested in learning about Shauna's experiences, and seemed riveted throughout. Although she highlighted her educational background as well as the educational system of her country, the students in the class were also very inquisitive about her activism as well. They talked about this visit afterwards, and said they were glad for the opportunity to have a visit from an alum such as Shauna."
Dr. Sue Serota
"A primary goal of our Global Leaders in Residence Program's is for these wonderful role models, who have made the world a better place, to spend quality time with our students, in both formal and informal educational settings, so our students can learn deeper lessons and begin to appreciate how these leaders are really just ordinary people who have chosen to do extraordinary things. Shauna's visit more than met this goal - she made herself available for six days, she challenged our students to think deeply and more strategically, she raised their awareness about political and environmental challenges, and she inspired them to step up to become the "leaders in a global community"."
Dr. Bob Hansen
Executive Director, Emerson Center for Leadership & Service
"Headlines hit the heartstrings with activist Shauna Aminath's participation in the "Footprints for Peace: walking in their shoes" event. Her generosity of spirit to share the realities of her non-violent resistance made global events have local impact. Simple questions such as , "What did you say to the guards when you were arrested, " and "How did you respond to rough treatment in prison" were not survival but revival words of a valiant soul. Students on campus walked in her shoes for a weekend, and found that peace and compassion are always a choice, even amidst violence and armed conflict. Our "Global Leader in Residence" took the Westminster College community beyond boundaries of faith, race, and citizenship into a world of vibrant imminent response. Shauna demonstrated for democracy in the Maldives and demonstrated self-determinism in Missouri. The current students learned that even in diversity we speak "Peace" with one voice."
Professor Kat. Barden
Coordinator, Presidential Interfaith and Community Service College Challenge
After college, Shauna returned to the Maldives to take an active political role, serving on the president's cabinet of the Maldive Islands until a military takeover last spring. Since then, Shauna has been a leader in the pro-democracy movement and has been arrested and jailed twice because of her commitment to this cause.
During her tenure on the cabinet before the takeover, Shauna was instrumental in bringing international attention to global warming and its implications on the survival of the Maldives' 1,200 islands. She was featured in the documentary The Island President.
Even as a young alum, Shauna's active commitment to the non-violent advancement of democracy in her home country are part of what makes her a true global leader.
About Global Leaders in Residence
The Global Leaders in Residence program is designed to bring leaders from a variety of academic and professional fields to campus for 2-3 days during which time they will speak to classes, interact socially with our students, consult with our faculty/staff, and deliver a campus-wide presentation on their efforts to make a difference in today's world.