By Yessenia Sanchez, Managing Editor
On Nov. 29, Long Beach State’s Associated Students Inc. hosted “An Evening With: Shiza Shahid” in the Student Union Ballroom. Shahid is an international entrepreneur who has been named on numerous prestigious lists such as the Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur, Times 30 under 30 World Changer, WEF Global Agenda Council and Tribeca Institute Disruptive Innovator. Shahid is more widely known for her activism and work as CEO and founder of the Malala Fund organization, which fights for over 130 million girls across the world who don’t have access to education.
Walking in with humble grace, Shahid told the crowd about her upbringing in Pakistan and how her devotion to activism started at an early age.
“I began showing up at the doors of nonprofits asking them to let me volunteer and as a result, when I was 13 I worked in women’s prisons.”
“I would just carry medical supplies for a nonprofit that was creating these medical camps for the female prisoners, because there was no female doctor in the prison.”
When she was 18, Shahid moved to the United States after receiving a full scholarship to attend Harvard. While she was in the United States, however, religious extremists and terrorism began to increase, taking control of her hometown. In January 2009, the Taliban seized all educational access for girls in Pakistan. The following summer, at 22 years old, Shahid created a secret summer camp that would continue educating girls in her hometown of Islamabad, Pakistan. It was at that camp that Malala Yousafzai became inspired to continue activism for young girls’ education, starting her path to become the youngest Nobel Prize winner in 2014.
Currently, Shahid is busy investing in businesses that are mission-driven with a vision to change the world. She looks for businesses that are working towards finding leaders who aren’t often seen in leadership positions, like women and people of color.
“Ultimately, creating a better world begins with us and the choices that we make to challenge the status quo, to use the influence we have and change something for the better.”
Shahid’s main piece of advice to students, one that she reiterated throughout her talk was to “show up.” She advised students to put their work out into the world and to volunteer in their communities.
“When you choose to show up for a cause that you care about, impacting even one person, know that your work is transformative and you cannot begin to imagine it is a ripple effect. It is the idea of the butterfly effect,” Shahid said.
“In the words of my favorite poet, Rumi, ‘You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop,’” she concluded.