March 18, 2014

Jeanette Grider

Atlas Week Keynote Speaker Events

Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder and president of the School of Leadership Afghanistan will be the keynote speaker at Saint Louis University's Atlas Week Signature Symposium at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3, in the Wool Ballrooms at the SLU's Busch Student Center, 20 N. Grand. The event is free and open to the public.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh

The special event is one of more than 130 activities scheduled for SLU's Fourteenth Annual Sam and Marilyn Fox Atlas Week March 30 to April 4. The theme for this year is "Education: Igniting the Flames of Change."

During her visit, Basij-Rasikh will also share her advocacy efforts and inside views on Afghanistan at two additional events that are free and open to the public Wednesday, April 2, in room 251 at Busch Student Center.

  •  11 a.m.-Noon: "What is the Purpose of Your Education?"
  •  4-5:30 p.m.: "Afghanistan Beyond Western Media"

While she is in St. Louis, she will also speak to students at Marian Middle School, a Catholic school serving adolescent girls of all religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds, committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by fostering their spiritual, academic, social, moral, emotional and physical development in preparation for and successful completion of college preparatory high schools.

Marian Middle School and Saint Louis University have been collaborating for many years. Most recently, SLU's Department of Nutrition and Dietetics began preparing healthy meals for Marian Middle School students. For more information, please visit

About the Atlas Program:
One of the main goals of the Atlas Program is to increase awareness of the global issues that confront us today in an effort not only to promote discussion, but also to inspire and inform action. It focuses on what we as global citizens can do to contribute to a better life for all people now and in the future. The Atlas Program is unique in that for one week of the year, it brings together members of the University community to focus on the global challenges that confront us in the 21st century.

Visit for a full calendar of events. For questions or additional information, contact Michelle Lorenzini at

About Shabana Basij-Rasikh:
Shabana Basij-Rasikh is co-founder and president of the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), a nonprofit organization that helps exceptional young Afghan women access education worldwide and jobs back home. SOLA may be the only girls' boarding school in Afghanistan. The school's innovative college preparatory program is well underway to becoming the first internationally recognized and accredited secondary boarding school in the country.

Born and raised in Kabul, Basij-Rasikh finished high school in the U.S. through the State Department's Youth Exchange Studies program. She went on to attend Middlebury College, graduating magna cum laude in International Studies and Women's and Gender Studies in 2011. In college, she founded HELA, a nonprofit group to empower Afghan women through education. She also raised funds across the United States to build a girls' high school in her ancestral village, and wells in the outskirts of Kabul. In 2011-2012, Basij-Rasikh was the National Gender Mainstreaming Advisor at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in Kabul.

In 2008, she co-founded SOLA to create education and leadership opportunities for a new generation of Afghan women. SOLA seeks to prepare Afghan secondary students for higher education and to nurture their visions for their country. After two-to-three years studying at Kabul, SOLA helps qualified candidates access good schools in the region and around the world. Most of these young women are the first generation in their families to be educated. Once they've graduated from college, some with advanced degrees, SOLA continues to work to help them find substantive positions in the public, private and civil sectors back home. These students are the generation that can bring peace and prosperity back to Afghanistan.

Growing numbers of SOLA alumnae with college degrees are poised to return home to contribute to rebuilding their country. SOLA's mission is to provide these future leaders of Afghanistan with global educational opportunities so that they can -- and will -- return home to develop Afghan solutions to Afghan problems.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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