Shabnam was born in Ghazni, Afghanistan and lived most of the first nine years of her life in a refugee community in Quetta, Pakistan. After graduation from high school in Kabul, Shabnam spent two years in Bangladesh at the Asian University for Women studying English. Subsequently, she was given an opportunity to come to the United States where she attended Earlham College, a small liberal arts college, and majored in Peace and Global Studies with a concentration in law and justice. At Earlham, Shabnam was a member of the Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams for four years. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Human Rights Studies at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University and is particularly interested in the topics of refugees and forced migration and women's rights. She hopes to study law with a focus on human rights in the future.