Tererai Trent

Tererai Trent

  • Two-time guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Tererai was chosen by Oprah as her “All-Time Favorite Guest”
  • Included in “O Power List” – honoring women who inspire others to follow and fulfill their purpose, as the truest version of themselves.
  • Featured in the New York Times Bestseller, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
  • Author of The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can

Travels from Monterrey, CA

Keynote Fee: Contact Forte Speakers

Gifted with natural charisma that inspires people from all walks of life, Dr. Trent’s compelling story motivates people to fight for their own dreams, as well as the dreams of others. Dr. Trent’s new picture book, The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can (Viking Books), is based on her story of perseverance.

Rooted in humble beginnings, Tererai grew up in a cattle-herding family in rural Zimbabwe, in a country known as Rhodesia under colonial rule, where cultural practices and a war that liberated her country charted the course of her life. Due to traditional women’s roles and cultural norms, Tererai did not have the opportunity to go to school. Undeterred, she still dreamed of an education and determinedly taught herself to read and write from her brother’s schoolbooks. Despite being married young and having three children by the time she was eighteen, she never lost sight of her dreams.

As a young mother without a high school diploma, Tererai met a woman who would profoundly impact her life: Jo Luck, president and CEO of Heifer International. She told Tererai, “If you believe in your dreams, they are achievable.” With this inspiration and her own mother’s encouragement, Tererai wrote down her dreams of going to America for higher education, sealed them in a tin can, and buried them under a rock, ultimately redesigning the blueprint of her life.

Dr. Trent could not have imagined that her steadfast determination, hard work and belief in her dreams would eventually earn her multiple degrees, and a prominent global platform with world leaders and international businesses and audiences where she advocates for universal access to quality education.

A two-time guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Tererai was named by Oprah as her “All-Time Favorite Guest” and received a $1.5 million donation to rebuild her childhood elementary school in recognition of her tenacity and never-give-up attitude. With the firm belief that education is the pathway out of poverty and a desire to give back to her community, Dr. Trent founded Tererai Trent International.

Through strategic partnerships with Oprah Winfrey and Save the Children, Dr. Trent’s mission to provide universal access to quality education while also empowering rural communities is now being realized. Eleven schools are being built in Zimbabwe and education has been improved for over 5,000 children so far. And this is only the beginning.

Currently an adjunct professor in Monitoring & Evaluation in Global Health at Drexel University, School of Public Health, Dr. Trent is a senior consultant with more than 18 years of international experience in program and policy evaluation, and has worked on five continents for major humanitarian organizations. As a fellow at the Center of AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at UC San Francisco, Dr. Trent conducted research on HIV prevention in Sub Saharan Africa with a special focus on women and girls.

Today, Dr. Trent is invited to speak all over the world, to share her remarkable story and the valuable lessons she has learned along the way. She was a keynote speaker at the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit where she used her growing voice to appeal to international businesses to invest in equal access to quality education. Leading the global charge in the fight for quality education for all children and women’s rights, Dr. Trent has become a symbol of hope for everyone, and living proof that anything is possible. Her favorite motto is “Tinogona,” meaning, “It is achievable!”


2015: Author of the picture book The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can

2013- Present: Adjunct Faculty, Monitoring and Evaluation in Global Health at Drexel University

2013: Named one of 26 Women in the Power List of O, the Oprah Magazine SA

2011-2013: Fellow at University of California, San Francisco

2011-2013: Masters in Public Health (Epidemiology) from UC Berkeley

2010: Oprah Winfrey named Dr. Trent her “favorite guest of all time”

2009- Present: Founder of the Tinogona Foundation

2007- 2009: Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Evaluation from Western Michigan University

2002-2010: Deputy Director, Monitoring & Evaluation at Heifer International

1998- 2002: Bachelors in Agricultural Education and Masters in Plant Pathology from Oklahoma State University



 The Story of a Little Girl with Big Dreams

Dr. Tererai Trent has a story to share about a little girl with big dreams. All the girl ever wanted was an education. But in Rhodesia, education for girls was nearly impossible. So, she taught herself to read and write with her brother’s schoolbooks and to count while watching cattle graze.

When the girl became a young wife and mother, she wrote her goals on a scrap of paper and buried them in a can — an ancient ritual that reminded her that she couldn’t give up on her dreams. Would her dreams ever come true? Dr. Trent’s true story of perseverance, based on her new picture book The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can (October 2015), is sure to inspire audiences of all ages and focus on the importance of education.

Additional Topics

Achieving Dreams Against All Odds – The Power of Adversity

The Power of Great Hunger – How it Defines Us

 Education is a Human Right – Empowering Girls Through Education

 Inspiring Women’s Leadership – The Three Powers: Passion, Purpose & Purse

 Inspiring Girls’ Dreams – The Defining Truth: Who Are You?

 Video Links:





“She’s my favorite because she symbolizes everything I believe The Oprah Show stands for. Her story encapsulates the essence of every lesson we’ve shared over the past 25 years: Hope, your thoughts create your reality, gratitude, it doesn’t matter where you come from, keep reaching for your dreams, and above all, you have the power.” Oprah Winfrey

“What more can I say after Tererai, she reminds me of what my grandmother used to say, intelligence is evenly distributed throughout the world, and that the poor work as hard, if not harder, than the rest of us. What is not evenly distributed is opportunity.” President Bill Clinton Stated after Tererai’s speech at the Heifer 60th anniversary event

“I am deeply moved and inspired by what Dr. Trent said, and her experience.” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General 

“Tererai Trent was absolutely amazing last night! She had our audience hanging on her every word, you literally could have heard a pin drop. She received two standing ovations and at least another four spontaneous outbursts of applause. Women laughed, cried, and thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of hearing her words. Many attendees came up afterwards to say she was “the best they’ve ever heard” – no small praise considering the caliber of speakers that have been featured over the past 15 years.” Co-Executive Director, Women’s Connection

“Her incredible and fierce talent for motivating audiences—young and older—is even more impressive because it is matched by a genuine and warm spirit. Dr. Trent spoke at our Girls’ World Forum and there was not a dry eye in the place—she is the real deal! Thank you for being a class act and for being a true testament to the power of great talent, hard work, and unrelenting perseverance.” Girl Scouts of the USA

“I must tell you what an amazing experience we had with Dr. Trent. We have never had such a full house and such a remarkable speaker! She is so cordial and accommodating, and that alone was wonderful. But her presentation today topped anyone I have ever heard, which seemed to be the sentiment of many who attended (they told me!). The challenge for us now is to find a speaker for next year who may (attempt) to equal Dr. Trent–I have never had such a glorious experience in my life.” Chrysalis Foundation 

“Dr. Trent’s passionate message about the power of education resonated with the graduate students during a critical time in their studies. Her moving story of hope and determination inspired our students to think differently, ask questions, and explore how they can effect positive social change within their professions, communities, and, quite possibly, the world. Dr. Trent is an eloquent speaker whose extraordinary story inspires audiences to believe they have the power to make a difference.” Walden University

“Any time anyone tells you that a dream is impossible, any time you’re discouraged by impossible challenges, just mutter this mantra: Tererai Trent.”Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist & best-selling author of Half the Sky

“Dr. Tererai Trent is more than a woman of power. She is a symbol of hope to every woman who ever thought herself unworthy, who ever felt herself unseen and unheard. I think she is the perfect example of what a human being can achieve when she decides to lift her life to its highest calling.” OPRAH WINFREY, O Magazine

“Our event was fabulous and we are delighted to have featured Dr. Trent as our keynote speaker. Our community is still raving about her remarks and how touched they were by her connection to what we do at the Nevada Women’s Fund to support women and families. If you ever need referrals for other organizations that are looking at Dr. Trent as a speaker, please feel free to give out our contact information.” Nevada Women’s Fund

“The event was so successful! Tererai was absolutely awesome, people were really touched with her presentation! “ United Way Panamá

“Tererai Trent was absolutely amazing last night! She had our audience hanging on her every word. You literally could have heard a pin drop. I think she received two standing ovations and at least another four spontaneous outbursts of applause. Women laughed, cried, and thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of hearing her words. Many attendees came up afterwards to say she was “the best they’ve ever heard.” No small praise considering the caliber of speakers that have been featured over the past 15 years.” Co-Executive Director, Women’s Connection

“We have been so grateful to have Dr. Trent with us at the annual national Habitat event. As we anticipated, she was such an inspiration and the most engaging and exciting speaker of our entire event.”  Krista Padgett, Director, Global Learning Services, Global Learning and Organizational Development, Habitat for Humanity International

Top 5 Reasons to Book Dr. Tererai Trent for your event:

  • Her message has inspired millions around the globe, including Oprah Winfrey who chose Dr. Trent her “All-Time Favorite Guest.”
  • With authentic presence, humility and a great sense of humor, she inspires audiences with her compelling story of overcoming adversity, and teaches how to dream with a purpose.
  • You want to hold a platform with one of today’s leading voices for quality education and women’s empowerment.
  • Tererai offers a unique global perspective as a woman who grew up in impoverished rural Africa – now in high demand to speak around the globe as an award-winning scholar and humanitarian.
  • You are seeking a speaker to highlight the cause of your organization with extraordinarily inspiring stories which touch people from all walks of life.


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