Nobel Laurate pays surprise visit to South High School

Malala Yousafzai pays surprise school visit. 9NEWS at 4 p.m. 10/21/16.

DENVER - When the hundreds of students filed into the auditorium at South High School, they had no idea that they were about to meet a teenager regarded as one of the most influential people in the world.

"I'm here just to meet you and to speak to you and to hear from you," Malala Yousafzai said.

Commonly called Malala, the 19-year-old fought against the Taliban in Pakistan over the rights of girls to go to school.

"I was one of the students who were banned from education," Malala told the crowd.

She started a movement through a blog on a social media page of the BBC. Her father owned a school and they fought to educate girls instead of just leaving them for the sole duties of mother and wife.

In 2012, two masked gunmen boarded her school bus and tried to kill her by shooting her in the face.

"The terrorists, they tried all their best," Malala said to the assembly. "All their best they could do and they still have not stopped me. So, it means I am on the right path."

In 2014, Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize along with another children's rights activist. She was the youngest person to ever be named as a Nobel Laureate.

"They stopped this whole idea of women having freedom." Malala said. "It is women who need to decide what she wants to do and achieve in her life."

After the assembly, Malala met privately with refugee students from South High School. Senior Jeneba Belety fled Sierra Leone during a civil war. She says meeting Malala is life changing for her.

"Can you name any other big activist than Malala now?" Belety said. "And, the fact that she's around our age is inspiring."

Malala even joked with the students about being nervous about her college applications for next year. The students all insisted she had nothing to worry about considering what she's done so far.

"Whether it's standing up in a classroom and sharing your views; whether it's standing up in the gathering and showing your views," Malala said to the small group. "Sharing your views and understanding yourself, it's very important."

When Malala asked the assembly if they had any questions, Junior Viola Konneh ran up to the stage to ask if she would sign her book.

"She is showing us that girls can do anything that they want," Konneh said. "No one can stop them."

The civil rights leader from Pakistan is here with her non-profit, The Malala Foundation. She says she appreciates the warm greeting. She came to South High School because of its diverse population.

"This school is different in many ways and this is special in many ways," Malala said. "They give me so much love and like give standing ovation. Their clapping, their cheers in the crowd like that is inspiring and that gives you so much energy."

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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