Last year, we reported on the tragic death of 25-year-old Anne Smedinghoff, a Johns Hopkins graduate and U.S. aid worker who was killed by a roadside bomb. Hopkins students who knew and/or were inspired by Smedinghoff wanted to make sure to honor the young woman’s memory was kept alive. This Friday, as part of the university’s Foreign Affairs Symposium, they’ll be giving away the first annual Smedinghoff Award to honor a person who is working to bring change to the world.
The first recipient of the Smedinghoff award is Shabana Basij-Rasik, the co-founder of Afghanistan’s School of Leadership. Here’s her inspiring bio, via Hopkins:
Shabana was born and raised in Kabul under the reign of the Taliban, and was thus not allowed to attend school. She grew up attending school in secret, dressing as a boy to escort her sister to class each day. Under a competitive program through the US State Department, she attended high school in the US and then went to Middlebury College, where she graduated magna cum laude in International Studies and Women & Gender Studies. While at Middlebury, she founded HELA, a foundation dedicated to raising money to build schools outside her town in Afghanistan. After graduation, she founded SOLA, the School of Leadership, Afghanistan, a boarding school for girls. In this capacity, she not only works directly with underserved girls in Afghanistan, but also advocates worldwide for expanded education.
I love that Hopkins has found a way to turn the tragedy of Smedinghoff’s death into a lasting force for good. I have a feeling that she’d approve.
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