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Malala Yousafzai has written a bestselling memoir, been named one of TIME’s most influential people in the world for three years in a row, and is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
So it's no surprise that the 20-year-old female education activist isn't deterred by the most difficult challenge she has ever had to overcome: surviving a bullet to her head.
“I just never think that it has happened to me because, firstly, I don't remember the incident, which is good in a way,” she told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie. “And secondly, I just do not want to think back because I'm moving forward.”
In October 2012, Malala, as she is known to the world, was singled out by a masked Taliban gunman who boarded her school bus in Pakistan and shot her in the head, barely missing her brain.
The shooting was a Taliban attempt to silence someone who had defied a ban prohibiting girls from attending school. Malala also had spoken out about the restrictive life for women and children through blog posts she had written anonymously when she was 11 and living in Mingora, a Pakistani city in the Taliban-controlled Swat district.
“The Taliban wanted girls not to be independent, not to be themselves, not to achieve any jobs like become a doctor or engineer or teacher, and I just could not accept that,” she said. “I just could not imagine a life limited to the four walls of my house and never be myself.”
Instead of being silenced by the school-bus shooting, Malala was emboldened by it. After the attack, Malala moved to England with her family. She continued to write and speak out about the plight of girls in her home country.
At age 17, she was attending chemistry class when she learned she had been awarded the 2014 Peace Prize, becoming the youngest-ever Nobel laureate.
These days Malala is tackling her latest challenge: college. After graduating from high school this past spring, she is now a student at Oxford University.
Going to college is a milestone that has left her a bit anxious but also, in true Malala spirit, optimistic.
“I'm quite nervous because it's going to be a new place to live, first time without parents, So I'm going to be out of my home and living in the accommodation and meeting new people,” she said. “And so I think it's going to be a great opportunity.”
As Malala works on passing exams and surviving her freshman year, she also will be encouraging other girls to share her goals. She has just released a new book about her life, "Malala's Magic Pencil," which she said was a natural step for her since she had already written a memoir geared for adult readers.
“It was time for me now to tell my story to younger children. And I think the best way to do that was to write a picture book,” she said.
Malala said she hopes the book inspires young children to "find their magic."
"The magic is their voice, in their words, in their writing," she said. "They should dream beyond limits and believe that there is magic in them."
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