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Sakena Yacoobi, Afghan Women's Rights Pioneer, to Speak at Santa Clara University Graduate Commencement

Wednesday, Apr. 7, 2010

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 7, 2010 — Sakena Yacoobi, an award-winning pioneer who has improved the lives of millions of Afghan women through her Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL), will address Santa Clara University’s graduate students at their 2010 commencement ceremony on Friday, June 11. The commencement will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the University’s Leavey Events Center.

In attendance will be nearly 600 students receiving advanced degrees from the School of Engineering, the Leavey School of Business and Administration, and the School of Education, Counseling Psychology, and Pastoral Ministries.

“I am delighted to speak to the graduates of Santa Clara University,” said Yacoobi. “Education has the power to transform, and with their strong foundation and values, SCU graduates can do great things to help others to change their lives.”

Well before Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson made educating girls from South-Central Asia a worldwide concern, Yacoobi was at work on the same problems. She founded AIL in 1995 as a way to implement social change in Afghanistan, especially for women. AIL created human-rights and leadership training for Afghan women, incorporating the customs, communities, and local citizenry in the programs it sets up. About 90 percent of AIL’s centers have become self-sustaining—AIL’s ultimate goal.

Since its founding, AIL has helped more than 7 million Afghans through schools and learning centers, medical clinics, and training for more than 30,000 teachers, health personnel, and civil society members.

Born in Herat, Afghanistan, Yacoobi was educated in California, holding a master’s degree in health from Loma Linda University and a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of the Pacific. She has honorary doctorates from the University of the Pacific and Loma Linda University.

Yacoobi is a member of the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, where she was previously on the steering committee, working on the education portion of the rehabilitation plan for Afghanistan.

She is also founder or member of numerous women’s leadership groups, including co-founder of Creating Hope International, a Michigan-based nonprofit building upon AIL’s work. She is a member of the board of directors of the grant-making Global Fund for Women and an advisor to the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, which awards prizes to science and human-rights innovators. Yacoobi also advises the Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), a global women’s networking and empowerment group.

Previously, she was a professor at D’Etre University and a health consultant.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,600 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse | Assistant Director, Media Relations | (408) 554-5121 |

Tags: commencement, Graduate, Santa Clara University, speaker

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