It is rare that in the year 2020 a young woman completing an undergraduate university degree would garner international headlines. But when the young woman is Malala Yousafzai it is a different story.
Within hours of sharing photos on Twitter and Instagram on Saturday celebrating the end of her three-year philosophy, politics and economics degree at the University of Oxford, the 22 year old – who only needs one name -was topping news bulletins right around the world.
The Nobel Prize recipient’s posts have attracted more than 1.3 million likes and thousands of messages of congratulations. Her remarkable courage, strength and intelligence have endeared her to the world.
Malala, of course, encountered – and overcame – the most horrific trauma imaginable at age 15. She was targeted by a gunman on her school bus because of her campaigning against the Taliban’s efforts to deny women and girls access to education.
Amazingly she survived the gunshot to her head: it took multiple operations, first in Pakistan and then in the UK. She spent almost six months in hospital before being discharged, and recommencing her education and life with her family in the UK.
Her ‘story’ is infamous and yet its power – her power – is never diminished. It’s hard to accept she is a mere mortal but she is. She is a human being and extraordinary proof of what’s possible.
You would be hard-pressed to find a student who had achieved more than Malala Yousafzai before she even landed a spot to study at Oxford. (Should we spare one brief moment to consider how her peers felt upon discovering their fellow classmate had already taken home a Nobel Peace Prize?)
She is looking forward to sleep, reading and Netflix now her exams are done. To say she has earned it is an understatement. (But I can’t help but guess she’ll be back to conquering the world any day now.)