Hard work, fearlessness, and tenacity define these notable women: Gabrielle Giffords, Sarah Hughes, Billie Jean King, Haben Girma, Katherine G. Johnson, Tommitrise Collins, and Christina Aguilera.

Resolving to Help Others

Gabby Giffords_smallGabrielle Giffords continues to amaze and inspire. The former U.S. Representative from Arizona rode 40 miles for charity in the El Tour de Tucson. Giffords, who was gravely injured in a 2011 shooting that left her partially paralyzed, advocates for stricter gun regulations through Americans for Responsible Solutions, which she founded with husband Mark Kelly. El Tour de Tucson beneficiaries include the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Boys & Girls Club, Susan G. Komen of Southern Arizona, and Lions Club—Cycle for Sight.

Advancing Women’s Lives Through Activity

Olympic gold medalist skater Sarah Hughes discusses sports, education, and success in this installment from Lean In. Hughes is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). The mission of WSF, founded by tennis great Billie Jean King in 1974, is to advance the lives of women through sports and physical activity. In addition to encouraging community activism, the WSF provides funding for training and travel to aspiring athletes and through GoGirlGo! helps improve the health of sedentary girls while also educating them on relationships and substance abuse.

Deaf-Blind Attorney Advocates for the Disabled

Haben Girma has the distinction of being the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School, but she’s not stopping there. Girma, who was able to receive the necessary accommodations to aid her education, thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), is now an advocate for the civil rights of those with disabilities. She recently gave the opening address at the 25th Anniversary for the ADA, where she met President Obama. Check out her TEDx talk here, where she speaks about how public service lawyers are pioneering advocates for the disabled.

Mathematician Helped Send First American Into Space

Katherine G. Johnson, a NASA mathematician, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The 97-year-old had been told her career options were nurse or teacher. She became a research mathematician at NASA Langley Research Center when they opened first jobs to African-Americans. Her calculations helped send the first American into space and the first American to orbit Earth. Johnson will be honored at a ceremony at the White House on November 24.

Student, in Labor, Would Not Miss the Exam

Tommitrise Collins wasn’t going to let being in labor with her first child stop her from taking her college exam. The 21-year-old Middle Georgia State University student was preparing to deliver her baby but had to complete the test. Collins gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She told Fox5, “She will always have me to depend on so my goals will not be put on hold. I don’t want to just barely make it by. I want my child to live comfortably.”

Singer Advocates for Domestic Violence Victims

Singer Christina Aguilera is using her own experiences to propel the topic of domestic abuse into the mainstream. Aguilera is the spokesperson for HopeLine from Verizon, which refurbishes donated cell phones and gives them to domestic violence victims and survivors. HopeLine has raised more than $29 million for domestic violence organizations and donated more than 190,000 phones.

photo credit: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords via photopin (license)

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