Bushra Amiwala, a college junior, is one of the youngest Muslim elected officials in the U.S. who currently serves on the education board in her hometown.
“I’m not a student that went to Harvard University or anything. My parents aren’t like these prestigious lawyers and doctors but truly am someone who came from an immigrant family, was born and raised here, go to a local university,” she explained. “If I could do it, you can do it as well.”
Amiwala joined the Skokie, Illinois school board at age 21 while she was in her third year at DePaul University. She faces unique challenges as a Muslim woman in politics.
“Being a Muslim woman that wears a hijab, I tend to be reduced to my identity, which is a big part of who I am, but with that there’s the additional expectation that I’m not just representing my constituents in my district, but I’m representing almost Muslim women as a whole at a national level,” she explained. “And being of a younger age, that is a little more difficult because that’s something I didn’t know I was signing up for.”
New organizations like Run for Something help support young people like Amiwala who run in local elections with seed money, organization building, and access to trainings.