"The terrorists came did not believe in the freedom of women, they did not believe in women's rights, to get an education," Malala said to the crowd.
This 17-year-old girl from Pakistan has become a symbol of courage around the world. Malala spent the evening at San Jose State, in conversation with Khaled Hosseini. He's an internationally renowned author of "The Kite Runner" and other books about the country of his birth, Afghanistan.
They agree no one should stop girls from an education.
RAW VIDEO: Malala Yousafzai spoke at San Jose State
"I decided that it was the moment when you have to raise your voice, you have to speak," Malala said.
Malala's fight for her own education and other girls almost killed her. The Taliban shot her in the head at point-blank range on her school bus in Pakistan, October 9, 2012. She was 15. Miraculously, she survived and used that assassination attempt as motivation to take her fight worldwide.
Malala was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
"If you want to change your society, if you want to see the change, then you have to step forward to bring the change," Malala said.
The president of San Jose State, Mo Qayoumi, Ph.D., understands Malala's quest better than most. He was born in Afghanistan, right next door to Pakistan.
"I've seen so many Afghan girls go through similar struggles, many of whom have lost their lives. For trying to just go to school and have an education," Qayoumi said.
"So thank you so much for your support and thank you so much for your love," Malala told the crowd.
Malala turns 18 this year and her gift is her commitment to the education of girls around the world. So Happy Birthday Malala!
READ MORE ABC7 News Special Report: Cheryl Jennings in Afghanistan
How you can help:
* Sign up at Malala.org to add your voice to the fight for girls education
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* Donate to The Malala Fund