Seconds into meeting Hadiya, it is abundantly clear where her passion lies. Her eyes lit up with determination when discussing education and our conversation often circled back to children’s learning, her ambitions as a businesswoman and leader, and her experiences at AUAF. The American University of Afghanistan, Hadiya said, was a place she considered to be her second home. However, with just two semesters left before graduating with a degree in business, Hadiya’s life in Afghanistan was upended.
“AUAF changed my life: the experiences, the people, the friends, and the professors are all blessings. They helped me become the person I have always wanted to be.” — Hadiya
Hadiya’s passion for education helped lead her to AUAF. While attending another university and working part-time at an NGO dedicated to improving the skillset of Afghan teachers and the nation’s school system, AUAF appeared on her horizon quite spontaneously. During her time at this NGO, she coincidentally met individuals from AUAF admissions who encouraged her to apply. Shortly after, Hadiya was offered a complete financial aid package to AUAF — what she described as the chance of a lifetime. Hadiya feels that life-changing opportunities, like AUAF, will often appear when you least expect them.
When asked about her experience at AUAF, Hadiya shared, “AUAF changed my life: the experiences, the people, the friends, and the professors are all blessings. They helped me become the person I have always wanted to be.” Not only did she form great relationships with her professors and peers, and often found herself at the top of her class, but she also worked closely with a project focused on the benefits of reading to children and young students. Hadiya continued working on issues related to children’s education while at AUAF. When not taking classes or working on her studies, she was reading to children in orphanages and public schools in Kabul, watching them grow and develop as a result.
Hadiya planned to use her AUAF business degree to open a business in Afghanistan focused on improving the lives of children through reading and education and offering them the support they need. She said that witnessing the impact such programs can have on children has fueled her desire to fight for her education so she may, in turn, impact the lives of others.
Hadiya’s mother is also a vital source of strength for her. Two decades ago, when Afghanistan experienced Taliban rule, Hadiya’s mother was forced to give up her education. Fearing this same fate for her daughters, she did not hesitate when Hadiya had the chance to evacuate Afghanistan. Hadiya shared, stoically, “I miss them a lot, but the thing is, that’s life. You will face tough situations, and you must push a little more to survive.” However, Hadiya’s younger sister, who is in her last year of high school, is unsure what her future holds. It is unknown if she can return to school, finish high school, or fulfill her dream of attending college. Hadiya emphasized that, while she fears for her sister’s ability to continue her education, this is not an issue just her family faces, but one that currently worries all Afghans.
Hadiya knows that education can change lives because she has seen it first-hand in her own life, her mother’s life, and the lives of the Afghan children she used to teach. Her knowledge of the everlasting impacts of education gives her the strength to keep fighting for it.