Meeting Malala

This week, we met with sophomore Melissa Browning, an English Writing major from Carmel, Indiana. On Monday, she had the tremendous opportunity to meet Malala Yousafzai when the young woman visited DePauw as part of her Girl Power tour.

HC: Hi Melissa! Thank you so much for meeting with us. I hear you’ve had a pretty surreal experience recently. Do you want to tell us how you had the opportunity to meet Malala?

MB: I happened to know the professor who was in charge of the student panel as well as in charge of asking Malala questions on stage during the lecture. Jeff Kenney, a professor in the Religions department, was my first year seminar professor last year. I'm fortunate enough to have a great relationship with him, so he invited myself and a few other students from our class to attend the panel. It was helpful also that our class covered a little bit about radical Islamism, so we knew some background concerning Malala's interactions with the Taliban and their involvement in Pakistan as well.

HC: Wow, sounds like a great relationship to have with your professor! There must have been a lot of build up to this day; what were you looking forward to the most?

MB: Honestly, I was just looking forward to being in the same room as her and absorbing everything she had to say. I read her book a few years ago and have been a huge fan ever since. Just being able to not only see, but meet one of my idols and one of the world's greatest champions of female empowerment and women's education was what I was looking forward to.

HC: So you attended the student panel before the Ubben Lecture. What was that like? How did it compare to the actual lecture?

MB: I'd definitely have to say I enjoyed the panel more. It's so refreshing to see global figures and celebrities in such a personal, intimate setting as the panel we sat on. I think the panel truly revealed her down-to-earth, genuine and funny character in a way that the lecture didn't. There's something about having Malala sit six feet away from you and look you in the eye as she answers a personalized question that was unmatched by the lecture.

HC: I can definitely see what you mean. The day must have felt like a whirlwind. What would you say was your primary take-away?

MB: I think after hearing Malala speak, I truly grasped the power in standing up for what you believe in. Here is a girl our age who has accomplished unimaginable feats for women's education, simply because she was passionate about a cause and refused to be silenced. It was a reminder that anyone can make a difference if they are willing to take a stand, no matter how cliché that might sound.

HC: That sounds incredible. Is there anything else you'd like to share with HerCampus about your experience with Malala?

MB: SHE SIGNED MY BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HC: And I heard you were the only one who got a signature! Truly incredible. Thank you again for meeting with us, Melissa!