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2023 Dottie Lamm Award Winner, Ayan Husein, stands with her award in between Dottie Lamm and board chair, Tania Zeigler

2023 Dottie Lamm Leadership Award Winner Ayan Husein

// October 17, 2023

To the young women out there who are carving their own paths: embrace your uniqueness and stand tall in your aspirations.

Every year the Dottie Lamm Leadership Award honors a young woman’s commitment to advancing and accelerating opportunities for women all across the state. We celebrate her resilience and leadership. Our 2023 Dottie Lamm Leadership Award winner is Ayan Husein, a second-year transfer student at the University of Colorado Boulder. Here is her speech from our 2023 Annual Luncheon. 

Let us continue to inspire, uplift, and empower one another because together, we can shape a future that is brighter, more just, and truly equitable for all.

2023 Dottie Lamm Award winner, Ayan Husein speaks onstage at 2023 Annual LuncheonHello everyone, my name is Ayan – and no, it’s not like the chemical compound ion that makes up everything. Although, I must admit, just like those elements, I’m on a mission to create positive reactions and bond with the world around me. Thank you for having me here today.

My journey as a first-generation student has been one of perseverance, growth, and unwavering determination.

My story is deeply entwined with my family’s journey. I was born in South Africa but we had to flee. My mother became the bedrock of our family, displaying unwavering strength. She led us to our new home, Kenya, facing unimaginable challenges, while raising my three brothers and me alone, shouldering the responsibility of nurturing and guiding us.

My brothers became second parents, supporting and inspiring me to become the person I am today. I witnessed the strength of resilience and the importance of family. Our journeys eventually got us to America, where we reunited with my father. His presence added another layer of strength to our family.

Now, as the youngest, I carry the torch for my family, motivated to build on the achievements of my brothers and leave a meaningful impact. Our journey has instilled in me the drive to create positive change and contribute to a brighter future.

At CU Boulder, I’m a second-year transfer student majoring in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, minoring in Korean, and working toward a certificate in public health.

This is a hard journey but it fuels my passion for learning, and teaching, and provides inspiration in unexpected places – such as life-changing labs.

After graduation, I might go to medical school for hands-on patient care or work in a research lab. I’ve always wanted to be a physician. The hospital is a familiar atmosphere for me because I was frequently in and out as a patient. The more I went, the more I began to see myself becoming a doctor. Both roads lead to my lifetime goal of becoming a trauma specialist, working with the United Nations to ensure healthcare access for all, and making the world more safe and compassionate.

But I’m not just about academics and science. Poetry and art allow me to deeply connect with people. Not to mention my adventurous side; I enjoy anything that gets my adrenaline pumping, like skydiving and martial arts. I believe in embracing every high-flying moment. At CU, I am a part of the Muslim Student Association, Karate Club, and Black Student Association.

My commitment to positive change extends beyond personal growth. I’ve been deeply involved in our community, going door to door during COVID to provide information and food, especially in high-risk places. I spread awareness of the importance of vaccines, and that health is the foundation of all progress.

Empowering others is a central part of my mission. I started a social justice series in challenging times marked by hate crimes and societal divisions.

It was a platform for people to engage in open, conversations about their fears and to educate themselves on pressing topics that are omitted from traditional education. This sparked important conversations about equity and inclusivity.

The amazing individuals I’ve met in the community have been a constant source of inspiration. They band together to help students like me, creating a climate where we can thrive, which strengthens my own commitment to leave a lasting impression.

Every action we take toward equity and inclusivity has a ripple effect. Our united efforts create a society where everyone has a voice and is empowered, just as every drop of water helps to produce a tremendous river.

Supporting organizations like The Women’s Foundation allows you to influence people’s lives today while also leaving a legacy of inspiration and advancement for future generations.

To the young women out there who are carving their own paths: embrace your uniqueness and stand tall in your aspirations.

Trust me, I’ve learned that life has a sense of humor. Sometimes it throws more curveballs than a confused baseball pitcher! Your journey may be filled with challenges, but remember that “adversity is often a catalyst for growth.” Seek like-minded people who believe in your potential for guidance and support that can light your way.

I want to express my gratitude to The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and all of you for believing in the potential of young women like me. Your support is not just financial; it is a beacon of hope, a symbol of empowerment, and a testament to the incredible impact that can be achieved when we come together with a shared purpose.

Let us continue to inspire, uplift, and empower one another because together, we can shape a future that is brighter, more just, and truly equitable for all.

Meet our 2022 Dottie Lamm Award winner

Meet our 2021 Dottie Lamm Award winner


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