Co-founder and President, SOLA- School of Leadership, Afghanistan
Co-founder and president of SOLA—School of Leadership, Afghanistan—the first boarding school for young women in Afghanistan, Shabana is widely recognized as a leading advocate for girls’ education. She is a global ambassador for Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education, and was recently named one of National Geographic’s 2014 Emerging Explorers as well as one of CNN International’s Leading Women of 2014.
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 in Vermont, graduating magna cum laude in International Studies and Women & Gender Studies in 2011. While at Middlebury, Shabana was awarded a Davis Peace Prize—with which she built wells in the outskirts of Kabul—and was selected as one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women of 2010. She also received the Vermont Campus Compact 2011 Madeleine Kunin Public Service Award for outstanding leadership and service to others.
While still in college, Shabana co-founded SOLA—School of Leadership, Afghanistan, a nonprofit dedicated to giving young Afghans access to quality education abroad and jobs back home. After graduating from Middlebury, she returned to Kabul to turn SOLA into the nation’s first boarding school for girls. SOLA provides college preparatory courses to students aged 11 to 19 representing all major ethnic groups, religious sects, and tribes. SOLA also helps graduates enter universities worldwide and return to substantive careers in Afghanistan, where they often become the first women to enter their fields.