Saint Louis University

Signature Symposium Featuring Shabana Basij-Rasikh: "Dare to Educate Afghan Girls"

2014 Sam and Marilyn Fox Atlas Week

Thursday, April 3
5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Busch Student Center, Wool Ballrooms

Sponsored by: The Atlas Planning Committee

Shabana Basij-Rasikh is co-founder and president of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA), a nonprofit 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, Shabana 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 & Gender Studies in 2011. In college, she founded HELA, a nonprofit to empower Afghan women through education. She also raised funds across the U.S. to build a girls' high school in her ancestral village, and wells in the outskirts of Kabul. In 2011-2012, Shabana was the National Gender Mainstreaming Advisor at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in Kabul.

In 2008, Shabana 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 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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