I am just a little girl from a township in Port Elizabeth. My mother believed in me first and I finally believed in myself. Today, I grab all opportunities with both hands. I try to make a small difference in the world.Melissa Awu-Division D Director
A dynamic leader is someone who sees challenges and obstacles as invitations to outgrow the perspectives that created them and to embrace higher perspectives to transform them. Melissa Awu, new Division D Director and Rotarian is a dynamic leader who is improving her skill set by growing daily and learning as much as possible from every conversation, meeting, interaction and experience. For her, leadership is defined by daily actions, not a title.
The young leader is a member of two Toastmasters clubs and her aspirations include taking advantage of online meetings by joining the New York Toastmasters Club. A photography enthusiast and sports manager at the University of Cape Town, Melissa is fortunate to be living her dream life, “I wake up and I go and do my passion everyday and I happen to get a paycheck at the end of each month.”
She oozed positivity, inspiration and came out as a genuine, grounded and determined person as she explained how she never hesitated when the opportunity to step up to leadership unexpectedly arose recently. “I am just a little girl from a township in Port Elizabeth. My mother believed in me first and I finally believed in myself. Today I grab all opportunities with both hands. I try to make a small difference in the world.”
The Division, which is in Cape Town, South Africa, still has five areas. Area Director Nehemie Etaka is in charge of Area D1, Nwabisa Maseti is the Area D2 Director, Nickie Seymour heads Area D3 while Abigail Muchinenyika and Yanga Gceya are the Area Directors for Areas D4 and D5 respectively. On whether or not she would be making any significant changes in the Division’s plans, Melissa, who was previously Division D’s Pathways Coordinator had this to say, “We created an ethos of dynamic leadership together and as I was part of that creation I am here to maintain and complete the task that my leader started.”
Melissa, who describes herself as a ‘very inclusive’ leader, is someone who doesn’t need the word ‘leader’ in her title to take ownership of her area of influence. She strongly believes that her whole team forms part of the solution, so it’s important that everyone’s opinion be heard and valued to ensure buy in. “I always consider myself as part of the team. We all have a part to play that feeds into the bigger picture and its important that no one drops the ball. My part is to lead and inspire my team.”
To Melissa, who believes in empowering others by engaging their greatness more than by instruction, success is a Division full of happy people, who are excited to share about and to be Toastmasters who have reached their personal goals and are now able to inspire others. It also means ensuring that each member goes away with the value that they have paid for and much more. There is room for new clubs in Division D but for now the focus is on nurturing the unhealthy ones so that they remain functional.
Story telling inspires Melissa. She cannot resist the smile on a person’s face after standing up and sharing their story. “It takes a lot to give a piece of yourself and when we share stories, we find comfort and strength, knowing that someone else went through what you are going through and survived. I am inspired by people who refuse to give up!” she said in parting.