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Malala fund Co-Founder to Speak at NU-Q Commencement

Global ambassador Shiza Shahid recognized as one of world's top social entrpreneurs

  • Inspired by 11-year-old Malala Yousafzai, organized summer camp for girls in Pakistan
  • Created organization to improve access to education for girls around the world
  • Class of 2015 comprised of 41 students in journalism, communication, liberal arts
  • ‘Shahid is a speaker who touches our deepest values as a community’
DOHA, Qatar --- Social entrepreneur Shiza Shahid will deliver the commencement speech for Northwestern University in Qatar’s fourth annual graduation ceremony, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 3.

Shahid is co-founder and global ambassador for the Malala Fund, which represents the young Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban for her campaign for girls’ education in 2012. In recognition of her work, Shahid was named one of Time magazine’s “30 Under 30 World Changers” in 2014 and Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of the world’s top social entrepreneurs.

Shahid was selected because “she has been at the center of one of the greatest human rights stories of recent decades -- and because she is a master communicator,” NU-Q Dean Everette E. Dennis said. “At a school where co-education thrives, where students learn that their skills as journalists, communication professionals, filmmakers and storytellers have the power to effect change, Ms. Shahid is a speaker who touches our deepest values as a community.”

Shahid was first inspired by the young activist while watching a New York Times documentary about Malala Yousafzai, then 11-years old, who was secretly blogging for the BBC about her day-to-day struggle to get an education. Then a student at Stanford University, Shahid contacted Malala and went on to organize a summer camp for girls in Pakistan.

In 2012, Malala was targeted by the Taliban and shot in the face.  Shahid flew to London where the critically ill girl was hospitalized.

In the media blitz that followed, Shahid worked with Malala and her family to use the growing global interest to build an organization that would improve access to education for girls around the world. The Malala Fund began by communicating her story through the book “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” published by Little Brown in 2013. Malala went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

“Shiza Shahid is an absolute gem in the new communication field,” said Amna Elsaka, one of the 41 students in the class of 2015. “She is a hero and role model to all of us who will be officially launching our careers on graduation day.”

Shahid’s speech will be the capstone of the 2015 NU-Q graduation celebrations. Earlier in April, the graduating students attended “Last Lecture,” a lunch where three faculty members chosen by the students -- Christopher Sparshott, Janet Key and Anne Sobel --delivered parting words of wisdom. Also in April, the Class of 2015 was honored at a gala dinner with faculty and staff.

On May 3, students and their parents will celebrate academic excellence at the President’s Award Luncheon, presided over by Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro.

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