Top 13 of 2013: People

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Esther Kim

From politics and the arts to technology and human rights, numerous people of 2013 have devoted their time and energy into a specific field that they are passionate about, and some even brought groundbreaking innovations to our society. Inspired by TIME magazine’s annual list of 100 most influential people, I have chosen 13 individuals who have displayed outstanding accomplishments and generated inspiration throughout the world during the course of 2013.

13. Beyoncé

With her new album “Beyoncé” topping the Billboard 200 chart for the third week, Beyoncé has once again proved that she is one of the most influential and powerful pop singers of the generation. 2013 has been a special year for Beyoncé as she participated in a variety of musical endeavors, such as contributing to the soundtrack of this year’s thematic production of “The Great Gatsby.” With her fifth album already selling more than one million copies since its release in December, Beyoncé boasts her long-standing influence in the music industry.

12. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, who was once the host of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” is now not only one of today’s most iconic television hosts, but also the founder of O, The Oprah Magazine as well as her own television network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Since 2013, OWN has been showing signs of success after experiencing a risky beginning in 2011. Furthermore, Winfrey continues to foster the education and learning of girls living in inadequate environments through the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Displaying her passion in a variety of fields, Winfrey has shown that her influence is still growing and flourishing.

11. Jonathan Ive

Serving as the senior vice president of design at Apple, Jonathan Ive is one of the core constituents of the company’s continuous success by formulating the designs of groundbreaking products of Apple, including the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Ive, who has also been a part of the design production of the recent iOS 7, is one of the most renowned contemporary designers whose works are currently displayed in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Throughout the year, Ive broadened his influence in design and the competitive technological companies by continuing to shape Apple’s attractive and simplistic designs that constantly garner the attention of the public.

10. Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour has long been an iconic figure of fashion industry as the editor-in-chief of Vogue and the editorial director of Teen Vogue. In 2013, Wintour consolidated her powerful presence in the fashion world by being selected as the artistic director of Condé Nast, the publisher of numerous widely-read magazines, including The New Yorker, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. Currently, Vogue attracts more than 10 million readers around the world, proving Wintour’s great influence and leadership that prompted Vogue to become one of the leading fashion magazines in the world.

9. Kevin Systrom

From the students at Jefferson to the popular fashion model Cara Delevingne, numerous users of Instagram use this social media platform to communicate with the world through photos and pictures. Kevin Systrom, the co-founder of Instagram, has become the center of the social media fervor at the young age of 29. With about 100 million people using Instagram, the social media feature is beginning to show an influence and power tantamount to Facebook and Twitter. Currently, Instagram is broadening its influence by introducing new features, such as posting videos, and advertising itself to the world market.

8. Ban Ki-moon

Currently serving his second term as the United Nations (UN) secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon has shown his efforts to foster global peace and unity in the times of political disputes and discordance. Since his inauguration as the secretary-general in 2007, Ban took the initiative to support women’s rights, alleviate the impacts of areas hit by natural disasters and aid those who suffer from poverty and malnutrition. In 2013, Ban consistently conveyed his thoughts on various global issues, such as the impact of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. As the leader of UN, Ban will continue to address and resolve current issues that hinder global prosperity.

7. Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer’s infinite list of ideas is unique and audacious. From the creation of Google’s simple yet attractive home page design to Meyer’s continuous efforts to restore Yahoo’s presence as one of the leading websites, Mayer is an individual of creativity and innovation who constantly attracts the attention of many. In 2013, Mayer’s efforts to change Yahoo’s logo and alter its home page design announced the beginning of Yahoo’s significant reforms. As the ambitious and progressive CEO of Yahoo, Mayer is the model for numerous young women who wish to become powerful female leaders in the future.

6. Larry Page and Sergey Brin

In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin co-founded one of the most popular search engines in the world, Google. The clean white page with a simple “Google” sign in the middle has been the place for many people to search anything they may be wondering about. Since its establishment, Google has now become a successful company for which more than 30,000 people work. In 2012, Google surpassed  $50 billion in revenues, proving that its prominence in the technology world is constantly growing and gaining power. In 2013, Google introduced Google Glass, which was tested by a small number of people and will be available for sale soon.

5. Barack Obama

Currently in his second term in office, President Barack Obama is the leader of the most influential and prosperous country in the world. In 2013, the controversy that Edward Snowden generated over National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance created an immense impact and angered people inside and outside the United States. Nevertheless, his influence is still very significant as he begins various efforts to envision a better future for the US, such as lowering the unemployment rate, raising the economy and rectifying current climate changes that are occurring in the world.

4. Xi Jinping

As the president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping’s actions are extremely critical to the economic and political facets of his country. Since his leadership began in March of 2013, Xi has been the center of one billion people who currently live in China, a number that constitutes about one-fifth of the world population. He has taken action to prevent the emergence of political corruption, encourage the flourishing of economy, and prompt more inhabitants to live in cosmopolitan cities. Xi is also responsible for forming a connection with the United States and deciding what kind of relationship will be defined between the two countries. Now and in the future, Xi’s influence will play a role in determining how China’s coming generations are shaped.

3. Pope Francis

In March of 2013, Jorge Bergoglio, who was serving as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was named the next pope, the leader of numerous Catholics around the world. Ever since, Bergoglio, named Pope Francis, has shown efforts to provide help and inspiration to the impoverished, whether they be children or adults, and he has contributed to fostering world peace and economic welfare. Pope Francis’s efforts to reach out to the poor and understand their lives represent his hope for a world without misfortune and pain, and he will continue to influence numerous people the world as he attempts to create a more optimistic future.

2. Angela Merkel

As the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, who is currently in her third term of office, represents the core of the European Union (EU). The first woman to become Germany’s chancellor, Merkel is also the youngest among the past German leaders and is often called “Mutti” or “Mommy” in German. Merkel’s leadership has shown great improvements in the German economy as the country’s employment rate continuously increased for the past seven years while the unemployment rate stayed lower than that of the majority of the EU countries. Since being elected for the third time in September of 2013, Merkel’s influence will continue to rise and impact the European countries that are gradually recovering from the European financial crisis.

1.  Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai’s courageous and powerful voice is known for advocating female education in Pakistan. Although her efforts endanger her safety, her crusade for women’s rights has generated pervasive impact on the world today. For Yousafzai, 2013 was the year of recognition as she was nominated for the year’s Nobel Peace Prize and was given the opportunity to speak at the UN on her birthday, July 12. Yousafzai has also written a personal memoir, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” that was published on Oct. 8, 2013. Today, Yousafzai’s voice is continuously growing as she sheds light upon efforts to improve women’s education.