Malala Yousafzai was only 15 when she was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for campaigning for the education of girls. Now, she has been accepted to Oxford, one of the world’s elite universities.
Malala tweeted, “So excited to go to Oxford!!!” She also congratulated other students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who received news Thursday about their university futures.
At Oxford Malala will study philosophy, politics and economics.
Gaining a place at an elite university is just the latest of Malala’s achievements. She is also the youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was co-laureate in 2014 with Kailish Satyarthi, an advocate for the rights of children in India. The Nobel committee cited their “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
A little more than a month ago, Malala posted this on her last day of secondary school: “I enjoyed my school years and I am excited for my future. But I can’t help thinking of the millions of girls around the world who won’t complete their education. I was almost one of those girls.”
Malala’s story is compelling. She was born in Pakistan and spent her childhood in the Swat valley. Her father, an educator, was determined she would go to school. But in 2007 Taliban militants took control of Swat and banned the education of girls. It was then that Malala began blogging for the BBC about life under Taliban domination.
When the Pakistani army finally weakened the Taliban’s hold in 2011, Malala returned to school and began publicly advocating for girls’ education. While she was going home from classes one day in 2012, a masked gunman boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, then shot her in the head, neck and shoulders. She survived but was flown in critical condition to London for treatment. After multiple surgeries, she relocated with her family to Birmingham, England.
Following news of Malala’s acceptance to Oxford, her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, expressed his gratitude in a tweet: “We are grateful to Allah,” he wrote, and thanked all “who support @Malala 4 the grand cause of education.”
Malala and her father established the Malala Fund in 2013, an organization dedicated to giving all girls access to education.
In a speech before the United Nations on her 16th birthday, Malala urged other young women to take action. “If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now and not wait for anyone else,” she said.