Whether you are in pre-school or Grad school, this is a common phrase that either you or someone you know has probably said within the past week. It’s so hard waking up in the morning, trying to find time to eat breakfast AND make lunch, and getting there on time while looking good. It can be downright exhausting, right? I have to admit that I have been a repeat offender when it comes to this phrase. It just seems like so much work when you could be having fun. But my perspective changed when I heard about a young woman named Malala.

As a resident of the United States, I have limited knowledge of just how terrible the situation in the Middle East is. I try to keep up-to-date on the happenings in places like Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, but I will never really know just how horrible it is because I haven’t experienced it for myself. I consider myself to be highly empathetic, so I can imagine it, but I can never really know what it is like.

In case you don’t know who Malala is, let me introduce her:

Now 18, Malala has accomplished so much in so little time, despite so many challenges. The first, living in an area of Pakistan ruled by the Taliban, who banned girls from going to school. Malala and her friends knew that they were risking their lives everyday by going to school, but they were brave enough to take that risk because education was that important to them.

Malala started to write anonymous stories about her life under Taliban rule. The stories gave insight to the struggles she went through and allowed people to understand just how bad the situation was. Eventually, the Taliban discovered that the true author behind the diary was Malala, so they set out to kill her.

When she was only 15, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban. Luckily, the bullet ended up in her shoulder, so she was able to survive and work past the injuries. It did not do any damage to her brain. Although she survived, she knew the Taliban would just keep coming after her until she was dead, so she fled to the United Kingdom.

She became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and spoke at the United Nations on her 16th birthday. She also got to meet Queen Elizabeth II, Obama and many other important people. She wrote and published a book about how she was shot by the Taliban and how she was adjusting to her new life in a new place. On her 18th birthday, she opened an all-girls school for Syrian refugees.

Needless to say, I know that I am grateful for having the opportunity to get such a great education, but I know that I need to express it more. I could definitely benefit from less complaining and thinking from another perspective. There are so many women in the world who cannot get an education due to circumstances beyond their control. I am so lucky to be able to receive any degree I want. There is no limit to the amount of knowledge I am allowed to consume. Money is not even an issue because I live in a country that allows students to receive loans for their education. Although it is something I will have to pay back later, it will be worth it because I got the education I needed for my desired profession.

This isn’t just going on in the Swat Valley in Pakistan, where Malala is from. This is happening in many war-torn countries such as Syria and places in Africa. Children and women are being robbed of their education because they fear for their lives. Education shouldn’t be something that has to be fought for—it should be an inherent right for everyone.

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