Afghan Women's Rights Leader, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, to Deliver Roger Williams University Commencement Address

May 17 ceremony to celebrate leaders in education, environmental justice, and the law

Jill Pais '05
Shabana Basij-Rasikh
Shabana Basij-Rasikh, a changemaker and founder of the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), the first and only remaining boarding school dedicated to educating Afghan girls in the world, will deliver the keynote speech and receive an honorary degree at the 澳门六合彩聽Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 17.

BRISTOL, R.I. 鈥 Roger Williams University announces that , a changemaker and founder of the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), the first and only remaining boarding school dedicated to educating Afghan girls in the world, will deliver the keynote speech and receive an honorary degree at the 澳门六合彩 Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 17. 

This year's 澳门六合彩 Commencement exercises will celebrate leaders across diverse fields, from education and women's rights, law and diplomacy to environmental science and social activism, as the university鈥檚 distinguished recipients of honorary degrees.  

Basij-Rasikh, 34, began her fight for girls鈥 education when she was six years old. Growing up in Kabul under the Taliban鈥檚 rule, she and her sister courageously attended hiddenschools despite the risk of severe reprisal from the regime. After the Taliban鈥檚 fall in 2001, Basij-Rasikh traveled to the U.S. through the State Department鈥檚 Youth Exchange Studies program to attend high school and college, and during this time, she co-founded SOLA with the mission of providing access to formal education for girls across her homeland. When the Taliban seizedpower following the U.S. military withdrawal in 2021, she coordinated a harrowing escape for her students and re-established the school in Rwanda. As the world has watched the Taliban eradicate women鈥檚 rights once again and force girls out of school, Basij-Rasikh鈥檚 SOLA has remained the sole school that provides an education to Afghan girls anywhere in the world.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh speaks with 澳门六合彩 Provost Margaret Everett
Shabana Basij-Rasikh (right) speaks with 澳门六合彩 Provost Margaret Everett during a presentation on the Bristol campus in 2021.

In 2021, Basij-Rasikh visited Roger Williams University to speak about women鈥檚 rights and access to girls鈥 education in Afghanistan, inspiring some of the same 澳门六合彩 students who will now be graduating with the Class of 2024. 

鈥淪habana Basij-Rasikh is the embodiment of how an individual鈥檚 passion and perseverance can make a profound impact on our world,鈥 said 澳门六合彩 President Ioannis Miaoulis. 鈥淎s we celebrate the extraordinary contributions of the exceptional leaders in our Commencement ceremony, we reaffirm 澳门六合彩's commitment to fostering inclusivity, diversity, and empowerment within our university community and beyond. These remarkable leaders will serve as an inspiration to our Class of 2024, as they prepare to head out and become the changemakers and leaders our world needs next.鈥

At the Commencement ceremony, 澳门六合彩 will also present honorary degrees to Elizabeth Moore, a conservationist and philanthropist who has supported environmental conservation efforts and science education in New England and the Gulf Coast, and current board member and past president of the TREE Foundation; and to Arlene Violet, the former Rhode Island Attorney General and the first woman attorney general in the United States, and a trustee emerita of the Roger Williams University Board of Trustees.

The 澳门六合彩 School of Law will present honorary degrees to Anita Earls,Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, who has led a distinguished career in civil rights legal advocacy and litigating voting rights and other civil rights cases; and to William E. Smith, Judge of the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island, who has served on the state鈥檚 federal bench since 2002, and will complete more than a decade of service on the 澳门六合彩 Law Board of Directors this spring, including six years as board chairperson. Justice Earls will serve as the keynote speaker in the School of Law ceremony. 

This year鈥檚 Commencement ceremony recognizes trailblazers who are making a collective impact across the globe. Guided by the belief that an education has the power to change lives and transform communities, Roger Williams University provides students with real-world learning opportunities focused on social and environmental justice that empower them to make a real-world impact. With leadership in the blue economy, coastal resiliency, and education, and as home of the only law school in Rhode Island, 澳门六合彩 harnesses the power of our faculty, staff and students in collaborative work with community partners and meaningful research that creates change for our region and the world. 

The university-wide Commencement celebration for undergraduate, graduate and law students of the Class of 2024 will be held on Friday, May 17.The university ceremony will take place on the main athletic field. The processional steps off at 8:30 a.m. with the ceremony beginning at 9 a.m.鈥疘ndividual school ceremonies will follow throughout the day.

澳门六合彩 will celebrate 1,154 graduates in the Class of 2024, conferring 61 associate degrees, 806bachelor's degrees, 114 master鈥檚 degrees, 161law degrees, and 13certificates.

澳门六合彩 will provide a livestream enabled for broadcast and radio recording of the main university ceremony. A link to the the 澳门六合彩 Commencement livestream will be posted on the Commencement website.