In 2014, Katie Meyler was honored as a Time Person of the Year for her incredible work fighting Ebola in Liberia. But she didn't always have such a global awareness.
Growing up in the US on government assistance, Katie thought she was poor. Then she traveled to a developing country and realized she was one of the wealthiest people on the planet. She also learned that there are places in the world where little girls will sell themselves just to receive basic needs, such as clean drinking water. She decided to do something about it, and her organization, More Than Me, was born in 2009.
With the goal of bringing stability to Liberia through education, More Than Me Academy is a girls' school providing tuition-free education — along with other services like healthcare and family planning — to vulnerable girls in Monrovia. Katie is working alongside the Ministry of Education to overhaul Liberia's entire education system, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has even claimed that supporting More Than Me is the number one way Americans can help Liberia.
Keep scrolling for some wisdom and inspiration from one of the world's most important advocates for girls' education in our Power Your Happy Q&A.
Power Your Happy Q&A
What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?
You are more amazing than you know you are. I know you might be scared about the roads ahead, but just do the best next thing and enjoy. Don't worry. Love fully, be in the moment, and know that you're energy, you're gifts, who you were born to be in the world matters and is really special. Be everything you are with all of your heart and stop comparing yourself to people around you. And your doubts and questions about God are okay — it only makes believing more real. Always ask lots of questions — you will be better because of it — but also know that there is something bigger than you watching over you and no matter what it's all going to be OK.
What talent or passion have you been able to use in your career in an unexpected way?
Slam poetry. Poetry is an outlet for me; I never thought it was going to be a way for me to help communicate a really complex situation in a way that transcends words and comes through in feeling and emotion.
What is the one thing that influenced your career today?
I probably think the most influential thing in my life honestly was the life of Jesus. I know that seems loaded and MTM is not a religious organization. We are made up of people from every background possible and we serve children from many different backgrounds as well, but personally, reading and looking up to a guy who defied societal norms to love the forgotten, the marginalized, "the untouchables," was a huge influence.
What does "finding your happy" mean to you? Do you feel you’ve found it?
My happy is being me. It's being surrounded with people who love and get each other, making up ridiculous songs; it's talking to strangers that become friends; it's being silly and open and free. It's living in the moment full of love and purpose no matter where I am — on a bike in NYC, on a subway striking up convos with an entire subway car of people, or right here in Liberia giving everything I am made of to work alongside people that have made me family.
Mexican and forensic files (I got that from my dad).
Favorite curse word?
Riding my bike in a city with Teddy (my fiancé), or making up rap songs with the MTM girls.
Heels or flats?
The one thing you can't leave home without?
My jean jacket.
Favorite junk food?
Favorite healthy food?
Dancing and swimming.
Taking my niece or nephew on a crazy outing.
Afrobeat (South African house music) and salsa dancing music.
Favorite thing about your appearance?
First thing you do when you wake up?
Last thing you do before going to bed?
Kiss my boo boo (or talk to him if he's not with me).