Maria Gift Nakanyala – Public Management, Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona

Maria Gift has over five years’ experience in secondary education, specifically offering English as a Second Language at Etosha Secondary School in Tsumeb. Currently, she is pursuing her Masters’ degree in International Relations and Diplomacy Management, with a focus on International Multilateral organisations.

Maria is a founder and coordinator of the Girls Can Program; an initiative that mentors, empowers, and teaches young girls about issues such as human rights, equality, consent, leadership, and the UNs’ Sustainable Development Goals and how learners can help towards achieving them.  She is also passionate about teachers’ in-service training and professional development and sees the need for teaching collaborations and partnerships between private and public schools in the country and beyond.

Maria studied teaching at the University of Namibia with English as her major, her passion for diplomacy and advocacy has gotten her involved in a number of community initiatives and international summits and conferences aimed at youth empowerment and leadership such as the YALI RLC SA, and the IYDC Accra.

Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Maria plans to continue her work with the Girls Can Program with focus on mentoring and empowering more girls, she hopes to form more networks and partnerships with fellows from across the continent, to create more impact for the Girls Can program. At the same time, she hopes to promote global teachers networks that would allow for not only collaborations and networking, but as well exchange programs for teachers at public secondary schools to gain more exposure that would enhance their teaching techniques.