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How this VCU student is changing children’s lives half a world away

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Axana Soltan, a criminal justice major at VCU, said she is living the American Dream.

"I am truly fortunate to be here. This is truly a land of opportunity," Soltan, who hopes to go to law school and become a prosecutor, said. "I just want to make a difference in the people’s lives."

Axana Soltan

Axana Soltan

The 19-year-old student from Afghanistan moved to the United State eight years ago. Following her passion to help children, she founded the non-profit Enhancing Children’s Living (ECL) three years ago. The organization helps children in greater Richmond with tutoring and by spreading an anti-bullying message.

"We have been very involved with the community and have bigger plans for future," she said. "Definitely. Pay it forward."

But ECL’s reach stretches well beyond Richmond. Soltan recently bought 150 pairs of new shoes for poor children in Afghanistan. She said many young people in Afghanistan were the sole bread winner of the family.

"Poverty is an epidemic there. This idea just came to my mind," she said. "These are the children who are working in the streets. Life is difficult for them."

During the winter months, no shoes could mean no work or school for children. Soltan said she saw herself in the eyes of the children of Afghanistan.

"To see the smile on their face is a good feeling," she said.

Friends and fellow ECL members called her an inspiration.

"She has always been very ambitious and very selfless," friend Lindsay Arrington said.

"That is what her purpose is. She is a great inspiration," ECL vice-president and fellow VCU student Deja Taylor, said. "Axana is like my role model. She is a great girl."

If you want to learn more about Axana’s non-profit click here.

Who is the hero in your life? Nominate them for Heroes Among Us

Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.