Malahat Mazaher ’16 is eager to help connect young people in her home country of Afghanistan with educational opportunities.
“Women’s education, and for that matter, education for everyone in the country, is the key to a progressive, secure, and developed Afghanistan,” says Mazaher, a double major in economics and international affairs.
Mazaher first traveled to the U.S. in 2009 through a cultural exchange program funded by the U.S. State Department. She then earned a scholarship to St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Md., where she finished high school before coming to Lafayette.
In the summer of 2011, Mazaher taught at Zabuli Education Center, a school just outside Kabul that provides free education for girls.
“As much as I gave to the students, they taught me more in return about life, being a girl in Kabul, and a new generation in Afghanistan – so optimistic and full of hope for the future,” she says.
In Mazaher’s native Kabul, students attend school in shifts because there are not enough to accommodate them. Afghan schools emphasize lectures and memorization, ignoring crucial skills like writing, critical thinking, and applying ideas in practical settings. Teachers earn very little, Mazaher says, so there is no incentive for them to continue their studies.
She has always been passionate about world issues and wants to be part of change. After graduation, she plans to work for a few years before studying public policy or international politics in graduate school.
“The opportunities that I have at Lafayette have made me grow and become a better person, student, and leader,” she says. “I feel blessed to be part of this community and live by the code of cur non (why not?)”