Courage, grace, compassion and ambition are the words that wrap the character of Zanele Mutepfa, a woman who, as a little girl, left her home of Zimbabwe, Africa, to begin her life of dreams in America. Zanele currently attends Portland State University as a major in Communications and minors in Business and Black Studies. She plans on using her studies as a television talk show host, an author, and founder of a women’s empowerment organization.
As a child, Zanele grew up with a widowed mother along with three older siblings. At eleven years old, she lost her mother to heart failure. The loss of both parents at a young age, engraved a compassion for people in her heart. After this, Dr. Paul (Caucasian American) and Maiya Thomas (Mexican American) of Portland, Oregon adopted Zanele. This gracious couple was no stranger to her, for Paul’s parents were missionaries who adopted Zanele’s mother when she also lost her parents in the 70’s. Zanele was then raised in a family with six brothers and four sisters, totaling eleven children of every shade, culture, size and style. Her multicultural family taught Zanele the value of unconditional love and the beauty of every human race.
The clear distinction in Zanele is her resilient spirit and dedication to build community. Zanele has facilitated community-building events, presented social unifying proposals to business executives, as well as led programs that promote high education for youth and empowerment for young women. Her experience as an immigrant, an orphan, and daughter of a single mother, brewed the passion for women, youth and education, which she now exerts through every avenue presented to her.
In the past, Zanele was a guest speaker on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Out Loud” show, to discuss the challenges of young women in the 21st Century. Zanele was requested by the Portland Trail Blazers to write an article about their sponsored event hosted by Reaching and Empowering All People (REAP) Inc.., to inform students about the value of good education; her article was featured on NBA Cares. As a well known ambassador of her city, Zanele served as princess of the Portland Rose Festival in 2010, a selection out of multitudes of the most powerful and elite young women of Portland, Oregon, to spread service to all mankind, citywide.
Zanele is currently the founder and director of “Empowering Sisterhood”, a program at Portland State University. Its mission is to unite the gap between African and African American women by sharing backgrounds, resources and academic support. She is also President of the Pi Sigma chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a mentor leader, host of the REAP Inc. TV Show and an occasional profiles reporter for PSU.tv. Zanele has completed internships at adidas America, Sesame Workshop and CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
The fascination of the media industry and understanding of its influence, Zanele aspires to become a TV host of a show that alters and enhances the way people reflect themselves in the media, especially women and youth. With the hope it will promote self dignity, academic intelligence, global awareness and of course- fashion! She dreams to be an individual that reaches every woman, every human, and every being that believes that everyone has a story. How it is amplified is the creator of every difference.