May 15, 2014 7:03 pm
Updated: May 16, 2014 6:40 am

Malala Yousafzai receives honorary degree from Halifax university

There was a standing ovation for Malala Yousafzai at the University of King’s College graduation ceremony in Halifax on Thursday, as the world-renowned teenage activist received an honorary degree.

Yousafzai, in a video message, said she was “honoured to now be called doctor” while accepting an honorary Doctor of Civil Law.

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“Sometimes I think that I don’t need to go to a college now because I’m already a doctor,” she said in the message to the graduates. “But still, I’ll work hard and it’s also my dream to study law and to get more and more education.”

Yousafzai could not attend the ceremony in Halifax because she’s still in school. The degree was presented to her in England and the video of the presentation was broadcast during the ceremony.

The 16-year-old said the recognition would help her in promoting children’s rights to education.

“It’s not only a degree, but it’s courage and it’s your support and it’s strengthening me to continue my campaign for education of every child.”

She was one of five honorary degree recipients this year, including Governor General David Johnston.

READ MORE: Who is Malala Yousafzai?

Yousafzai, who now lives and studies in Birmingham, England, survived being shot in the head on her way home from school in Pakistan‘s Swat Valley in Oct. 2012.

The Taliban had issued a death threat against her after she became well-known for criticizing the militant group for attacking girls’ schools and trying to prevent girls from getting an education.

Since recovering from the attack, she’s become an even more vocal advocate for girls’ and women’s rights and the education of children.

She has addressed the United Nations, been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and received Europe’s top human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Last year, she became the sixth person to become an honorary citizen of Canada. The others include Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Raoul Wallenberg, Aga Khan and the Dalai Lama.

Recently, she has lent her name to the campaign to free nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram last month.

READ MORE: Canada joins effort to free Nigerian schoolgirls

Along with presenting her with the honorary degree, the university announced it had created the Malala Yousafzai Canada scholarship, to be offered to young women from developing countries.

The aim is to allow young women the means to complete a post-secondary education they would not be able to afford otherwise, a statement on the university’s website reads.

The scholarships will amount to $120,000, over four years, and will be enough to cover tuition, residence fees, books and travel to and from the university. Two scholarships will be offered in the inaugural year of the program.

“King’s strives to cultivate courage and independence of mind in its students,” the school’s president George Cooper said in the statement. “Malala Yousafzai is an exemplar of these qualities.”

The scholarships are being offered through an equal partnership with the International Development Research Centre.

*With files from The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

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