Singer Shakira may be known for her hip-shaking tunes, but her activism in education reform has led her to a position with the Obama Administration.
The White House announced Tuesday that President Obama intends to appoint Shakira (real name Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll) to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, along with three others.
“I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country,” Obama said. “I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
Shakira, a Grammy Award-winning artist, founded the Barefoot Foundation in 1995, which helps fund schools in her native Colombia, as well as in South Africa and Haiti. She is also a founding member of Latin America in Solidarity Action and became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund in 2003.
In an interview, Shakira expressed her gratitude for the honor of working with President Obama.
“This is a tremendous honor for me. I am humbled that my philanthropic experience could be helpful or that my voice can be used to amplify the message and work of the President and this Commission. Latino youth are the fastest-growing group in America, yet more Latino children are living in poverty—- 6.1 million in 2010 —- than children of any other racial or ethnic group. As I have seen in my own Foundation work, the only road out of poverty is education. For a host of reasons, Latino young people in this country disproportionately drop out of school and far too few finish college. Closing this gap will not only determine the economic future and competitiveness of this nation, but can serve as a model for the world. I am grateful to have an opportunity to support such important work.”
A longtime Obama supporter, Shakira endorsed him during the 2008 election and performed at Obama’s inauguration. Additionally, she met with both the president and vice president in February 2010 to discuss education and early childhood development.
Next up for the Shakira? She will be honored next month as the 2011 Latin Recording Academy “Person of the Year.”