Fueled by Her Passion and Determination, Harvard Grad Student Jamie Mittelman Creates a Podcast for Women Olympians to Share Their Stories

Jamie Mittleman, Flame Bearers founder

Every now and then, the world is captivated by a success story so great that it makes the impossible feel possible. These triumphs serve as a reminder that breakthroughs do happen. They convey a message of hope that the thing people want most in the world is an arm's reach away.

Compelling, inspiring, and motivating, these tales of greatness make people feel and believe in something bigger than themselves. Their attractiveness lies in their power to change mindsets — an astonishing feat in and out of itself.

The individuals behind it all find themselves turning into heroes overnight. Most fail to realize that countless defeats stood in their way before getting to where they stand now. Each failure awarded a lesson, and each learning curve gradually inched them to their final goal. One never knows when they have reached the last hurdle, but they know that determination ultimately helped them cross the finish line.

It’s possible luck played a part in their eventual success, however you can’t deny that a laser-sharp focus on their goal took them to new heights. A focus that few manage to grasp the grandness of and a determination fewer can master.

Insert Jamie Mittelman, a Harvard graduate student.

In 2020, Mittelman spent six months networking her way to the International Olympic Committee to create her dream summer internship, a project she wanted to take place on the grounds of the Tokyo Olympics to elevate women’s effort in sports. This idea aligned perfectly with her passion for showcasing female athletes.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit, and the games got officially postponed.

Not letting this situation deter her efforts, she seized the opportunity to fill a void left by the pandemic and created the Flame Bearers’ podcast, supported by Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program.

Now a part of Harvard Innovation Lab and a semifinalist in the university’s 2022 President’s Innovation Challenge, this venture became an outlet for Jamie to overcome personal grief and hardships.

“I started the podcast almost as my rescue mission. The last four years have been hard on my family. We lost my dad, almost lost my mom, and have struggled to rebalance on four legs instead of five. I didn’t realize just how deeply this had darkened my world until COVID hit, and I began to see others struggling with pain and isolation,” said Mittelman.

Just as diamonds form under pressure and seeds grow in the dark, challenging times shape the human spirit and propels us beyond the imaginable. She was no exception to the rule.

Her innovative thinking and perseverance created a platform for women Olympians and Paralympians to share their stories and celebrate their journeys.

“I created this podcast to be a microphone for women who are true masters of resilience, whom we can all learn from. Sport connects us all regardless of race, religion, class, sexuality, or any other qualifier one can imagine. My goal is to spark hope in a time of uncertainty and pain. If I can reach just one person, I’m happy,” she adds.

Now listed on the top 2% of podcasts listened to globally, listeners who tune in can expect a variety of topics, such as the overcoming of obstacles, unequal pay, racial inequity, and more.

“Working with Flame Bearers hosted by Jamie Mittelman was incredible, one of the best podcasts I have ever been a part of,” shared Sophia Herzog, silver medalist of the 2016 Paralympic games and 2x World Champion and 5x World medalist.

Another guest, Mariama Jamanka, talks about the hard work that led her to win the gold medal in bobsleigh at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics four years ago, despite being a relative newcomer to the sport and the adversity she faced.

Flame Bearers’ is a space where women worldwide can share their thoughts without judgment and inspire countless others to pursue their dreams.

These athletes show what it takes to be legendary, one episode at a time.

Click here to start listening to the podcast and here to learn more about its mission.



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