Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani student and women’s-education activist, returned to the classroom for the first time today since being shot in the head by a member of the Taliban in October. She is starting as a ninth-year student at Edgbaston High School, the oldest independent girls school in Birmingham, England.
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In a statement, Malala said:
“I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school. I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity. I miss my classmates from Pakistan very much but I am looking forward to meeting my teachers and making new friends here in Birmingham.”
On Oct. 9, 2012, Malala was attacked on her way home from school in northwestern Pakistan and had to be flown to a hospital in Britain for special treatment. After undergoing surgery on her skull and receiving cochlear implants, she was discharged in February.
She was a runner-up for TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year issue, in which she was recognized as “the world’s most admired children’s-rights advocate.” The Taliban’s attack did not silence the teen, but rather, made her a symbol for women’s rights. Aryn Baker, TIME’s Middle East Bureau Chief, wrote: “Her primary cause — securing Pakistani girls’ access to education — has served to highlight broader concerns: the health and safety of the developing world’s children, women’s rights and the fight against extremism.”
MORE: Malala Yousafzai Gives Her First Public Address Just Months After Being Shot in the Head by the Taliban
PERSON OF THE YEAR: Runner-Up: Malala Yousafzai, the Fighter