“There are critical moments in your life where you have to make a decision about who you are, and in those moments let your heart guide you.”
On Sunday, June 28th, co-founder and ambassador of the Malala Fund, Shiza Shahid, will speak with students and teachers at EF’s 2015 Global Student Leaders Summit in Davos, Switzerland. Many of us have heard the inspiring story of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai, but not many people know that standing by her side throughout her journey has been twenty-six-year-old Shiza Shahid.
Growing up as a girl in Islamabad, Pakistan, Shiza was fortunate enough to receive an education at a time when the Pakistani Taliban banned young women from schools and places of higher learning. After finishing her secondary education – grades 9 through 12 – in Pakistan, she received a scholarship to attend Stanford University. She was thrilled to have this opportunity, and her mind filled with new ideas and possibilities.
While studying at Stanford, she happened to see a documentary featuring Malala Yousafzai, a young girl in Pakistan just a few years younger than Shiza who was attending school in secret, contrary to the Taliban’s wishes. Inspired by Malala’s commitment to spreading awareness about and fighting for women’s educational rights, Shiza decided to launch a week-long summer camp in Pakistan – which Malala herself would come to attend – that taught young girls how to become successful activists and advocates.
A few years later, after graduating from college, Shiza was working as an analyst for McKinsey & Company when she got a text saying that Malala had been shot by the Taliban while heading home from school. Unsure of what to do, she dropped everything and flew to England to support Malala and her family as she underwent treatment. This spontaneous decision marked a huge turning point for Shiza, prompting her to assist Malala and her father in establishing the Malala Fund – a non-profit dedicated to empowering girls through quality secondary education to achieve their potential and inspire positive change in their communities.
In the video below Shiza tells her story, sharing with you what it was like growing up in Pakistan, leaving her country to attend Stanford University and then following her heart to help create the Malala Fund.