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Ellen Chilemba, a women's rights advocate who founded the groundbreaking Tiwale in her native Malawi when she was just 17, will be on the Stockton campus March 19 to accept the Powell Scholars Program Exemplary Leader Award.

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Powell Scholars honor Ellen Chilemba with Exemplary Leader Award

Feb 24, 2015

University of the Pacific's Powell Scholars Program has named women's rights advocate Ellen Chilemba the latest recipient of the Powell Exemplary Leader Award.

The 20-year-old Chilemba, who founded the groundbreaking Tiwale in her native Malawi when she was just 17, will be on the Stockton campus March 19 to accept the honor. A reception at 4 p.m. in the Regents Room will be followed by a discussion about Tiwale at 5 p.m. in the Janet Leigh Theatre. The events are free and open to the public.

"As a teenager in Malawi, Ellen Chilemba saw many girls her age and younger forced to drop out of school and resort to marriage or prostitution due to financial reasons," said Colleen Motoyasu '17, a Powell Scholar and the student who nominated Chilemba for the award. "At just 17, she formed Tiwale in 2012 to help women empower themselves and improve their living conditions. She exemplifies what it means to be an exemplary leader."

Tiwale was launched in a community near Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi in southeast Africa.

Tiwale uses vocational training, micro loans and school grants to help women in local communities to end the cycle of poverty. One program, the Tiwale Design Project, taught local women how to dye fabrics in the African style that are then sold through Tiwale. The women receive 30 percent of the proceeds for their work and the remaining portion goes to support Tiwale's initiatives throughout the region, including the school grants program.

Chilemba has received the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work, and was recognized as one of the We Are Family Foundation's 2013 Global Teen Leaders. She was also named Changemaker of the Week by the International Youth Forum. She is currently a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she is pursuing a degree in economics with a minor in development studies.

This is the third year that the Powell Scholars has given the Powell Exemplary Leader Award. Prior recipients include Brandon Stanton, "Humans of New York" blogger and author, and four students from Harvard University who invented the SOCCKET, an energy-harnessing soccer ball.

To learn more about the Tiwale Project, visit: To learn more about the Powell Scholars, visit:

Media contact: Colleen Motoyasu | (559)392-6166 |

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