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Afghan women law students set to return; one is chosen for commencement speech by male, Saudi classmates (Photos)




Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Students from Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Afghanistan come to Chapman University to study law for one year as part of "soft diplomacy" efforts by the U.S. State Department and participating countries.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Munira Akhunzada delivers the commencement speech to students at the Chapman University Masters of Law graduation. “The person who goes furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare,” she said. “This is the challenge that lies before us.”
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Munira Akhunzada said she was surprised to be chosen as the commencement speaker by her classmates from Saudi Arabia, which is known for its restrictions on women.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Shasmi Maqsoudi prepares for her Masters of Law graduation from Chapman University on May 16th, 2013. She has ambitions to become a judge in Afghanistan.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Shamsi Maqsoudi has been away from Afghanistan for ten months and hopes to get a doctorate degree and a professorship at Kabul University.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Bagpipes play at the end of the graduation ceremony at Chapman University.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Shamsi Maqsoudi hopes to fight for women's rights in Afghanistan and get a professorship in her home country.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Munira Akhunzada says she will fight to become a judge. “Maybe other people who (are coming) after, they will see me and they will start fighting and maybe they will get it, so I have to open the door," Akhunzada said.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Munira Akhunzada and Shasmi Maqsoudi came to Southern California to study American law, as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program with Afghanistan to send Afghan attorneys to American for more legal education and training.
Munira Akhunzada was selected by her classmates, most of whom are Saudi men, to give the commencement speech at the Masters of Law graduation at Chapman University.
Mae Ryan/KPCC


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Last year, we brought you a story about two young women from Afghanistan studying law in Southern California. Their goal was to return home, become judges, and help shape the rule of law. 

Today, they are set to return to Afghanistan after graduating with master's degrees. 

As KPCC's Erika Aguilar reports, one woman was bestowed a special honor at the graduation ceremony, and the way she was selected gives them hope their plans might work out.