Sonita Awarded Rhodes Scholarship


Sonita discusses her inspiration with students from RHS.

Bard College recently announced that Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh has won a Global Rhodes Scholarship, a fully funded award for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. 

Students in ninth grade at RHS met Sonita Alizadeh at Upstate Films in October of this year after a screening of the documentary of her life.

 “If you have a dream, it’s like having a map. You’ll never get lost” said Sonita during the Q&A session. 

Making a dream board and staying dedicated to her dreams helped her achieve them.

Sonita Alizadeh grew up in Afghanistan, but her family fled to Iran when she was seven to escape the rule of Taliban. 

In Iran, an organization for refugees helped her develop her life skills. Sonita started writing her own songs, after being inspired by Yas and Eminem. 

In 2014, she entered in a contest and won $1,000. She sent that money to her mother who went back to Iran.

After the competition, Sonita’s mother said she had to be sold as a bride so the family could pay for her brother’s dowry. This decision happened while the documentary about Sonita was being filmed. The director decided to give Sonita’s family $2,000 and asked for 6 months so they could finish the film. 

Over the 6 months she wrote the song, “Brides For Sale” and it gained attention internationally. 

She explained that her family finally heard her when they saw her rap.

“You can’t speak over a video, you have to listen,” she said.

The nonprofit Stoneheart Group saw her song online and arranged for Sonita to come live in  the U.S. Sonita went to Utah first (Wasatch Academy) then American University in DC then to Bard College which she now currently attends. 

Sonita continues to fight for the rights of women everywhere. Sonita has won the Asia Game Changer Awards(2017), MTV Europe Music Awards- Generation Change Award(2018), Freedom Prize(2021), and the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards Six Core Principle Winner for Conviction(2021).

She inspires millions of people with her powerful lyrics. Her most popular song “Daughters For Sale” has 1.5 million views on Youtube and is about selling brides in Afghanistan. Sonita’s art is used to fight injustice of child marriage.