March’s LeadHER of the Month: Fatoumata Sankare

  • There’s a famous saying that goes “a lot of different flowers make a bouquet.”  As this month sparks the beginning of Women’s Month, March’s LeadHer is the perfect student to celebrate a flower in the bouquet of Howard women.  Fatoumata Sankare, a Senior, Political Science Major, Arabic Minor from the Bronx, New York is an accurate representation of beauty, intelligence, and grace.  Not only is she the president of the Howard University Muslim Student Association, she also serves as the HU Hijabfest Coordinator, the “Lead by Example” Community Outreach Specialist, a Foreign Language and Areas Studies fellow, as well as an Artishia and Jordan Scholar.  Fatoumata lives by Nelson Mandela’s advice that “it always seems impossible, until it is done.” Through her exemplary character, the strides she’s made on campus, she is most certainly a flower that sticks out of the bunch. Here’s why…

Asha: What has your experience been like being the president of the Muslim Student Association at Howard?

Fatoumata: Being the President of the Muslim Students Association has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am able to not only understand my religion from a different perspective, but I am able to interact with various people from different backgrounds as well. As president of the MSA, I have encountered numerous situations, whether it was me personally, or the concerns of other Muslim students on campus. I was able to work on my leadership skills, but most importantly, I learned the importance of listening. As president of any organization, I believe it’s always important to listen to people, not only in your organization, but outsiders as well, in order to better serve your community.


A: Being that this month is women’s month, why do you believe celebrating this month is important?

F: I believe that celebrating women’s history month is extremely important. Women, especially black women are the backbone. We go through so much. We accomplish so much. Yet, we continue to be looked down upon in society. I believe that this is the month to show off the accomplishments of all women.


A: How do you define yourself as a woman?

F: I define myself as courageous. I believe that I take steps and risks that a lot of people are afraid to take. But, I know that everything that I want, is on the other side of fear.



A: What are some struggles that you have had to overcome or a particular obstacle you’ve been faced with?

F: One struggle I have had to overcome is overthinking. For example, I will be given an amazing opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do and then all of a sudden, I am afraid because I thought about it too much. I just need to always remember that if God presented me with an opportunity, he has already prepared me for it, even if I do not feel prepared.


A: There is a quote that states, “feminism is worthless without intersectionality and inclusion,” do you agree with this? Why or why not?

F: I agree. I believe that if one is looking at feminism, they should look at all of the factors as well that may affect an individual.



A: Who or what inspires you to be the best version of yourself?

F: My mother inspires me to be the best version of myself. I have seen her go through so much, but regardless of what she went through, she never forgot who she was in the process.


A: How do you work to uplift other women on Howard’s campus?

F: I begin by compliments. You never really know what anyone is going through, but a simple compliment to someone can change their whole mood. I also try to talk to people. Howard can be a campus where people are sometimes seen as “unfriendly,” so to fight against that view, when I see someone who is usually always alone, I start conversations with them, just so they know that they can always talk to me if they need anything.


A: Name some words of wisdom that have helped you in discouraging moments or experiences you’ve had?

F: I turn to God for everything. One time I read this post that said, “The same God that was there for you that time, and the time before that, and the time before that, is the same God that is going to get you through this situation.”



A: What are some words of advice you have for Howard women continuing through the rest of this academic year?

F: You did not get this far, just to get this far. Keep going. No matter what you are going through, you will get through this. You will be okay. Take care of yourself in the process and always say “no” when you do not have time or feel like doing something…It’s self care.


Fatoumata’s boldness is an inspiration to us all. Her words remind us to cast away self doubt, remember to be kind to others, and take care of ourselves as well. Women’s History Month celebrates women throughout history that have made valuable contributions to society, but let’s also remember to celebrate women that are present and upholding those same contributions and values that women in the past have fought for. Let’s make a commitment to uplift the greatness that is…WOMEN. We are powerful beyond measure!



*This article has been edited and condensed.