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Shabana Basij-Rasikh

Cedar Crest College Announces Commencement Speaker

March 8, 2019 — Cedar Crest College is honored to announce that Shabana Basij-Rasikh, the co-founder and president of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA), will serve as speaker during the college’s 149th annual Commencement Ceremony. The event will be held at the PPL Center in downtown Allentown on Saturday, May 11, 2019. In addition to speaking, Basij-Rasikh will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Cedar Crest College.

Basij-Rasikh is a leading advocate for girls’ education around the world, empowering girls to learn in even the most difficult of circumstances. For her work, Basij-Rasikh has received a number of awards and honors. In 2014, she was named one of National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers. That same year, she was honored as one of CNN International’s Leading Women. She was recognized with the Malalai Medal in 2018, among Afghanistan’s most important national awards.

Basij-Rasikh was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban, which forbade girls’ education. After pursing her education in secret Kabul schools as a child, she later came to the United States to complete high school through the State Department’s Youth Exchange Studies program. She went on to graduate with honors from Middlebury College in Vermont in 2011. As a student, she was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women of 2010, and in 2011, she received the Campus Compact Madeline Kunin Public Service Award for outstanding leadership and service to others.

Upon graduation, Basij-Rasikh returned to Afghanistan, where she established SOLA as the country’s first boarding school for girls. SOLA provides quality education to an underserved and underrepresented population. Students range in age from 11-19 and represent all major ethnic groups and religious sects. Graduates of SOLA have gone on to attend dozens of schools and colleges across the globe.

Cedar Crest College’s 149th Commencement Ceremony will be held Saturday, May 11 at 10 a.m. at the PPL Center at 701 Hamilton Street in Allentown. Students, faculty and staff will attend, and in addition to Basij-Rasikh, Cedar Crest President Elizabeth Meade will also address the graduates. Tickets are required for the Commencement Ceremony. Those unable to attend can watch a live stream of the ceremony on the Cedar Crest website. For more information, please click here.