Born July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai was raised in the Swat Valley where the Taliban, a fundamentalist Muslim group, ruled through violence. Fast forward to October 9, 2012. The Taliban attempts to assassinate their biggest threat…15 year old Malala Yousafzai. But why? A rising activist for women’s education, Malala would eventually become the youngest Nobel Prize laureate and become more dangerous to Pakistan’s status quo than ever before.

After her remarkable recovery from a gunshot wound to the head, Malala became an established activist for education. The inception of her inspiration was during her darkest moment in her life, when education and her dream of becoming a doctor was stripped away from her. In an interview, an emotional Malala shares this dream. However, it would eventually turn into helping women around the world to have a voice for education rights and to fight for their equality. She would stand up for not just herself, but for all the women in Pakistan who were oppressed and restrained from education rights.

“I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.” 

-Malala Yousafzai

What makes Malala an inspiring figure today is the perseverance and resiliency she has displayed in her own life and for the life of others around the world. At only 20 years old now, she has dedicated her life to opening schools to refugees in numerous countries that are in need, and it is what drives her. Smiles and happiness abound when a new school opens as it is more than a institution. It is an opportunity to become a force for good. If you would like to learn more and donate to the Malala fund, click here.

Three lessons we can draw from Malala’s powerful life example:

1. You cannot kill passion.

Although being shot in the head at 15 years old, Malala could have refrained from continuing to be a voice for countless women around the world fighting for education rights and equality. It was her passion to see women come out of the dark and become a force for good in the world.

2. Our darkest moments can shape us for good.

At first, her dream was to become a doctor. But once education was stripped away by violent bombings of schools, it motivated her to stand up and become a voice for all women who are oppressed and are searching for a better quality of life.

3. Selflessness is courageous!

It was through her experiences that Malala allowed herself to be molded and to live for a purpose greater than she could have ever imagined. Malala leads by example as someone who genuinely wants to see others succeed. Her own oppression navigated her to selflessly become a courageous leader for women.