I think I was always born to be in school. Growing up, all I knew was that school was my favorite place to be and, while I enjoyed summers, I counted down the months until August when I could go back. The few times the doctor told my mother I needed to stay home due to sickness was miserable! All I wanted was to go back to what I enjoyed. Having a mother as a teacher must have had a lot to do with why I turned out that way; I loved helping her pack up her classroom at the end of the year and setting it back up at the beginning of a new year. I could not and still cannot imagine myself leading any other life that did not include some kind of education.
In my senior year economics class, every morning was dedicated to what important historical event happened that day and important current events. I appreciated learning about the past and what was happening then in the world, but very little topics interested me beyond that. On October 10th, my teacher talked about a teenaged Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai who was known for advocating education and women’s rights had been shot in the head by the Taliban the previous day. She frequently blogged about what she believed in and this upset those who disagreed with her. He brought up news clips that discussed the details of the incident and newscasters all over the nation talked about how serious her injuries were. Hearing about the whole thing bothered me all day. I couldn’t believe that a teenager, one who was younger than me, had been met with such brutal force for what she believed in. Once I had gotten home from school I read all I could about Malala.
Vigils were being held all around the world for her. The odds of Malala living were slim but so many people, myself included, carefully watched and hoped that she would pull through. Malala had started advocating for women’s rights and education when she was only about ten years old, long before I knew that not everyone received an education in the world like I did. Malala began to blog anonymously about her experience for BBC Urdu in Pakistan while the Taliban had a growing influence in Swat, where Malala lived and went to school.
She did come to a full recovery and continues to advocate education for all and women’s rights. She is the youngest person to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and she has even written “I Am Malala,” an autobiographical account of her life before the Taliban attack and what she has done since then. I ran across her book while with my friends at the Middlesboro Mall and I had to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life directly from her. Reading her book was so different than listening to the newscasters talk about her life and ambitions for the future- she was speaking for herself with the words on those pages. I kept a picture of Malala as the background of my phone during my senior year so I would always be reminded that even though times could get tough at school that I wanted and needed to be there.
I know I am incredibly lucky to have been able to go to school and to even attend the University of my choice. Ever since I learned about Malala’s story I have personally been more grateful for my ability to attend school. With life at LMU bringing me so much joy I can’t think of not having it in my life. School is rough sometimes when I have to stay up late working on an assignment, studying for finals, or preparing for a test, but in the end I know I am lucky to be there despite it all. After I graduate from LMU I plan to go to graduate school. I am not quite sure what I want to do with my life yet, but I know that I have a world of opportunity waiting for me thanks to the opportunities I’ve already been granted.
Heroes of mine and people I’ve looked up to have always been significantly older than me. They’ve been scientists, athletes, authors, and others who always seemed to be so far beyond me. I admired them but did not have much in common with them. Now at the top of my list lies Malala, a sixteen year-old who has done more in her life than I can hope to do in mine. I may never meet Malala, but my life, as well as many other lives, have benefited by her story.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment on my blog!