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. It also helps graduates enter universities worldwide and return to substantive careers in Afghanistan, where they often become the first women to enter their fields.
SOLA is a people-to-people, nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering educational and leadership opportunities in Afghanistan and the world for the new generation of Afghanistan, especially for women.
The School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA) is the first known boarding school for girls in Afghanistan. SOLA believes that educating girls across Afghanistan’s provinces, religious sects and tribal affiliations, is the fastest way to increase female participation in political life, and to raise the educational levels of all Afghans going forward. Conceived in 2008 as an English-immersion boarding house for Afghan students seeking international scholarships, today 34 female boarding students attend SOLA from 14 of Afghanistan’s provinces representing all major ethnic backgrounds. 42 alums of SOLA have gone on to secondary and tertiary scholarship opportunities at boarding schools around the world.
source: ted.com, sola-afghanistan.org