SJSU Welcomes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai and Apple CEO Tim Cook at Special Dialogue

Tim Cook, Malala Yousafzai and Mary Papazian

Apple CEO Tim Cook, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai and SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. Photo: Jim Gensheimer.

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University was delighted to welcome Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai and Apple CEO Tim Cook for a special discussion moderated by SJSU President Mary A. Papazian, 2 to 3 p.m. Monday, December 16, 2019, in the university’s Diaz Compean Student Union.

“We are pleased to welcome Tim Cook and Malala Yousafzai to campus,” said Papazian. “They have done extraordinary work to empower women around the world.”  

In front of a small audience of San Jose State students, faculty and staff members, Yousafzai and Cook discussed the impact of their partnership on expanding access in girls’ education around the world. 

In January 2018, Apple and Yousafzai announced a long-term partnership that aims to get more than 100,000 girls into education. The partnership is helping the Malala Fund scale its organization by assisting with technology, curriculum and research into policy changes needed to help girls everywhere attend school and complete their education. Cook also joined the Malala Fund leadership council. 

“In some areas, it is very difficult for girls to get to school because of lack of transport. Technology can act as a resource for girls to access schools,” Yousafzai said. “We are really glad to work with a company that can bring their ideas for approaching such a problem.” 

Papazian noted that the traditional approach to educational change is through government and NGOs, and asked Cook and Yousafzai how business makes a difference.

“When Steve Jobs founded Apple, he initially said education is a key market for us. The vision was to get a computer in every classroom. That vision expanded,” said Cook. “Education is a great equalizer for people, if you can fix that one, a lot of other issues fall by the wayside. I talked to Malala about the 130 million girls who were not able to go to secondary school, the injustice of it all. If you focused on girls and the family, the whole family benefits in a significant way. It’s exponential.”

Yousafazi said they are hoping to expand the number of champions and activists they are supporting over the next five years and to expand to new countries. The partnership will focus on countries where the number of girls not in school is the highest, where there is the greatest gender disparity.

“In 10 years, the partnership with Malala and Apple will still be thriving,” Cook said. “We will be touching more people and the 130 million will be a lot less.” 

Yousafzai asked the audience to imagine this room without the girls and women. “That’s the world you get without education. When you educate girls, it introduces equality, giving them a presence and voice in society,” she said.

This special opportunity came about on short notice. Given final exams, commencement and security needs, SJSU reached out to a diverse group of students about participating in this dialogue. The university will ensure that all students have access to this unique opportunity by making available photos and a recording of the event.

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About the Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is co-founder and board member of Malala Fund. Yousafzai began her campaign for education at age 11 when she anonymously blogged for the BBC about life under the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Inspired by her father’s activism, Yousafzai soon began advocating publicly for girls’ education—attracting international media attention and awards.

At age 15, she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out. Yousafzai recovered in the United Kingdom and continued her fight for girls. In 2013 she founded Malala Fund with her father, Ziauddin. A year later, Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts to see every girl complete 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

Yousafzai is currently a student at Oxford University pursuing a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. 

About Tim Cook

Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple and serves on its board of directors. Before being named CEO in August 2011, Tim was Apple’s chief operating officer and was responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.

Prior to joining Apple, Tim was vice president of Corporate Materials for Compaq and was responsible for procuring and managing all of Compaq’s product inventory. Previous to his work at Compaq, Tim was the chief operating officer of the Reseller Division at Intelligent Electronics. Tim also spent 12 years with IBM, most recently as director of North American Fulfillment where he led manufacturing and distribution functions for IBM’s Personal Computer Company in North and Latin America.

Tim earned an MBA from Duke University, where he was a Fuqua Scholar, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University.

About San Jose State University

As Silicon Valley’s public university, San Jose State is one of the most transformative universities in the nation. The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its nine colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 270,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

New Diversity Trainer/Educator Joins SJSU

By David Goll

Craig Alimo

Craig Alimo

Dr. Craig John Alimo joined the San Jose State University Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) in February to fill a new position as a diversity trainer/educator. He will oversee curriculum and professional development, and conduct outreach efforts for a student population of more than 33,000. He joins SJSU’s Chief Diversity Officer Kathy Wong(Lau), Deputy Diversity Officer Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas, and other staff members in the office who are engaged at a university with a storied and long history of student civil rights activism and service to a diverse student population.

Dr. Kathleen Wong(Lau), SJSU’s Chief Diversity Officer since 2016, said Alimo’s lengthy and extensive experience in educational diversity and familiarity with academia is a strong advantage.

“He knows from a hands-on perspective what it takes to do the work and the forethought it requires,” Wong(Lau) said. “Universities are complicated places and sometimes, you push on one part, and something else emerges. He has a very thoughtful approach based on his experience.”

Wong(Lau) said Alimo will be taking over many of the tasks she’s been handling since arriving at SJSU, freeing her to oversee additional comprehensive campus-wide diversity projects. Logging 23 years of work in social justice and diversity education, Alimo most recently worked as director for equity and inclusivity for the Napa Valley Community College District. He also previously worked at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Maryland, among other educational institutions.

“I’m totally tickled, excited and humbled to be working with Kathy,” Alimo said. He and Wong(Lau) worked cooperatively on a nationwide research project examining the educational benefits of Intergroup Dialogue programs, a small-group, face-to-face discussion format that encourages participants of two or more different social identity groups to reach new levels of understanding, relationships and action through talk with an extensive list of reading assignments.

“I’ve known her for many years,” he said. “She has done amazing things here and elsewhere. This job is more aligned with my scholarship and skill set, so I’m so happy to be here.”

Among other duties, Alimo will oversee the university’s intergroup dialogue initiative, started a year ago. The groups of 12 to 15 people each meet weekly over an eight-week period. ODEI initiated the program, helping train faculty, staff and students from across campus who volunteered for training to become group facilitators. This spring, 170 SJSU students, faculty and staff volunteered to participate in these discussions, far outpacing the initial capacity.

Diversity “touches all aspects of a university,” Alimo said. Campuses can be places where students from often-segregated communities or circumstances first meet substantial numbers of people from different racial, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds as well as sexual orientation and gender identities, he said.

“Campuses are like social science laboratories. Everything out in society is here, too, and affects us,” he said. “What we know from research is that people with exposure to diverse environments often have amazing educational outcomes, can think with more complexity, do better on grad-school exams, and have a tendency to volunteer and vote more often [amongst other outcomes].”

Alimo expressed excitement about how intergroup dialogue can foster greater understanding and better relations between and within various groups on campus. The pedagogical approach that  Intergroup Dialogue uses to creating an anti-bias, anti-racist, multicultural and social justice educational system has its roots to the 1940s and ‘50s. Its more recent incarnation on university campuses was initially created during the 1980s when the University of Michigan created its Program on Intergroup Relations. Wong(Lau) said SJSU’s program is based on that model.

University-based diversity programs can have ripple effects on the rest of society, Alimo noted. He recently attended a presentation by a collection of local high-tech companies addressing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace and corporate world. Silicon Valley companies on how they can capitalize on the presence of diversity in the workforce up to the executive level.

Wong(Lau) expressed excitement that adding Alimo to her team will greatly enhance the work of her office, which she described as having “a good reputation for delivering good work.” Another program of which she’s proud is an eight-week session for white faculty members to recognize how their comparatively privileged status and still-majority position at SJSU can be used to foster greater awareness and understanding for their colleagues and students of color.

Other goals await.

“One of our biggest challenges is remaining nimble yet helping campus leaders focus on long-term goals of building organizational capacity for diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Wong(Lau) said. “It is a community of 40,000 people and we want to support everyone’s success, engagement, and growth.