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Alum Spotlight: Awista Ayub

September 3, 2009

“In 1981, when Awista Ayub was only two years old, her family fled Afghanistan for the United States, where Awista flourished, thanks to organized athletics—and where she vowed to make a difference in her home country some day. Soon after the fall of the Taliban, Awista saw her chance: She founded the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange, an organization dedicated to nurturing Afghan girls through soccer. What began with eight young women has exploded into something of a phenomenon. Fifteen teams now compete in an organized league, with hundreds of girls participating through the Afghanistan Football Federation.” (From

Awista is also a proud AmeriCorps Alum who served in AmeriCorps NCCC, Class IX – 2002-2003 in Charleston, SC (Southeast Region).  She  first heard about the NCCC program from a classmate at the University of Rochester who served for a year at the Denver campus prior to entering college.  Awista thought the program sounded rewarding and showed an effective way to serve the community. She  immediately applied for a position with NCCC after hearing about it and was later placed as a team leader for the program!

When asked how she would describe the importance of her AmeriCorps service, Awista had this to say:

While the year of service was a challenging year, it was certainly also a worthwhile and life-changing experience for me. Through my work, particularly as a leader and member of a team, I saw first-hand the positive impact that a group of dedicated individuals can have in the lives of others. Without a doubt, my experience in AmeriCorps has played a significant role with the work with I’ve since done in Afghanistan supporting girls sports programs. It was soon after I left AmeriCorps that I started my organization and began my program.

In her book,  However Tall the Mountain, Awista tells her story and stories of the eight original girls in her program, with whom she has kept in touch. Timely, heartfelt, and moving, it shows how women can find strength in each other, in teamwork, and in themselves—risking their lives to obtain the freedom that we often take for granted.

Awista has been featured in a number of national news publications and programs including ABC News – Person of the Week, ESPN, Glamour Magazine – Hero of the Month, CNN American Morning, New York Daily News, Sports, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washingtonian, and USA Today. We wish her all the best of luck in her endeavors and a hearty congratulations on her new book!

Get more information about Awista and her new book  However Tall the Mountain

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