“I have lived my life so as not to let that day define myself — or my students,” said Roig-DeBellis, who had much of the audience in tears. She was accompanied by a group of parents whose children she had saved.
Also honored: Melinda Gates, who with her husband, Bill Gates, founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a huge philanthropic force. Gates was described by her award presenter, actress and writer Lena Dunham, as “the most stunning example of putting your money where your mouth is that the world has ever seen.”
After the Carnegie Hall ceremony, the honorees, presenters and guests attended a private dinner at the famed Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel. It was a scene of fascinating combinations. Lady Gaga approached Malala, for example, and the two took photos together.
“Never be afraid to speak your mind,” the pop singer told the activist — who is famous for doing just that. “I can’t wait until my fans hear your story,” she added.
Watching it all was supermodel Iman, who said she had been deeply moved by Malala’s speech.
“She is a game-changer for girls,” Iman said. “I wish young girls here knew more about Malala, and less about the Kardashians.”