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Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, starts university at Oxford

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, starts university at Oxford
Ms Malala Yousafzai was formally accepted to Lady Margaret Hall in August. It is the same Oxford college that Ms Benazir Bhutto, who went on to become the first female prime minister of Pakistan, attended in the 1970s. REUTERS file photo

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, starts university at Oxford

OXFORD – Ms Malala Yousafzai, the 20-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education, began her studies at the University of Oxford this week.

Ms Yousafzai, the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, announced on Twitter on Monday (Oct 9) that she was attending her first classes at the elite British institution. A picture of a laptop with three school books on logic accompanied the post.

“5 years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls’ education,” she wrote. “Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford.”

Ms Yousafzai was formally accepted to Lady Margaret Hall in August. It is the same Oxford college that Ms Benazir Bhutto, who went on to become the first female prime minister of Pakistan, attended in the 1970s.

Ms Clare Woodcock, a spokeswoman for the university, confirmed on Tuesday that Ms Yousafzai has enrolled at Oxford but said the school would make no further comment. Ms Yousafzai had said in August that she would study philosophy, politics and economics.

At a young age, Ms Yousafzai became a high-profile advocate for the education of girls. She appeared alongside her father, Mr Ziauddin Yousafzai, the owner of a girls’ school, in a 2009 New York Times documentary about the Taliban edict that forbade girls from attending classes.

Using a pen name, she wrote blog posts for the BBC about life in the Swat Valley, an area of Pakistan that was largely controlled at the time by the Taliban. In 2011, she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. It has since been renamed the National Malala Peace Prize.

But her efforts to bring change to the Swat Valley also made Ms Yousafzai a target. On Oct. 9, 2012, when she was 15, a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus, asked for her by name and shot her in the head and neck.

Severely injured in the attack, Ms Yousafzai was transferred to Britain for medical treatment. She settled with her family in Birmingham, England, in 2013, where she continued her education, according to the Malala Fund, an organisation she founded in 2013.

The next year, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside the Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi, for “her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

She has met privately with President Barack Obama and with Queen Elizabeth II, and on her 16th birthday gave a speech at the United Nations, which declared July 12th “Malala Day.”

But even extraordinary lives have their quotidian moments, and few things bring them out like the emotional ups and downs of starting college. (Obama said last month that leaving his daughter Malia at Harvard University had brought a tear to his eye.)

Last month, just days after posting pictures from the U.N. General Assembly and the offices of US senators like Ms Jeanne Shaheen and Mr Patrick Leahy, Yousafzai sent an anxious request for help to her more than 987,000 followers on Twitter.

“Packing for university Any tips? Advice? Dos and dont’s?” She asked, adding the hashtag #HelpMalalaPack.

Part of the problem? “Some say overpack and some say pack less,” she said in a follow-up post. But there were two items she said she would definitely add to her suitcase: English Breakfast tea and flip-flops for the dormitory shower. THE NEW YORK TIMES