By Molly MacElroy
There are not many people in this world with as much strength, perseverance, and dedication as Awista Ayub. I met Awista while attending the University of Rochester and I knew as soon as I met her that she would someday change the world. And she has.
Awista created the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange in her native country of Afghanistan in order to give girls in that country the opportunity to feel empowered through athletics. She has enabled hundreds of young women to learn and excel at the sport of soccer in a country that was and is still very unrelenting in its harsh treatment of women.
Awista and I were friends and teammates on the UR Women’s Ice Hockey Team and it would not have happened if she had not put in the work to create and recruit members for the team. It was her countless emails and meetings that got everyone excited, recruited a coach, and scheduled games for the team to play. All of this coming from someone who did not even know how to ice skate!
I can remember one of the first practices we had on the ice. Awista was holding on to the side of the rink like she was holding up the boards. A few of the girls on the team went over to her and started giving her a hard time because she could not skate.
They kept saying, “but wait, you started the team…you have to know how to skate.” And her response was always, “yes, I started the team, but only because I love hockey…not because I know how to skate.”
But that was Awista – driven to succeed no matter what she did.
Awista was an amazing student as well, balancing her chemistry major with everything else that she chose to do. I can remember late nights studying in the science library or the 24-7 computer lab, though we really never ended up studying. The time was always taken up with conversations about how she was going to solve the world’s problems or at least her friends’ problems
Awista had a heart of gold. Awista conquered ice skating and much more at UR and has developed into the kind of alumna that a University hopes to see their students become. She truly is a hero to so many people and I am honored to know her as I do.