Zara Rahim, 22, entered politics with a passion for women’s issues, poverty and development — all of which were influenced by her family’s experience emigrating from Bangladesh in the 1980s. As a high school senior in 2008, with presidential elections approaching, Zara was frustrated with what she had been seeing and longed to learn more about the issues to help bring about change. She heard then-Sen. Barack Obama speak for the first time, got goose bumps, drove to a field office to volunteer, and the rest is history.
Zara credits the Obama for America team with giving her a start, and for instilling a passion in politics. Since then, Zara has worked on social business with Nobel Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and served as the Florida Digital Content Director for Obama for America in 2012. Currently, Zara works in digital and public affairs for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Zara has already learned the lesson about the importance of balancing life and work, writing, “Don’t forget to take care of yourself and don’t forget the people who have helped you get where you are.”
Latest tweet from @zara915: “I hate not being able to sleep #blah“
Here’s Zara in her own words:
I am 22 years-young.
I live in Tampa … Am from Port St. Lucie …. I went to school at USF. I hope to visit Bangladesh (again!) soon enough.
I entered politics because … my passion for women’s issues, poverty, and development is directly influenced by my family’s experience emigrating from Bangladesh in the 1980s (the country was at that point recovering from a massive civil war and genocide). In 2007, as a high school senior seeing an approaching election, I was frustrated with the state of our nation. I longed to learn more about the issues that were in play and see how I could help bring about change. That is when I heard then-Senator Barack Obama speak for the first time, and I got goose bumps. This was the same experience for most of Obama’s volunteers and so many of his staff , and at 17, it drove me to a field office and made me sign up to volunteer and knock on doors. From then on, I knew I wanted to work in politics
One principle I always put above politics is… to never allow myself to forget why I chose a life of public service and commitment to our political process. It is vital to be true to the issues that are important to me and use them as a guiding light in all my major decisions.
Person or people who gave me my first shot: The OFA team gave me my start back in 2008. I was a volunteer who had no experience in grassroots organizing. I was empowered to take my passion for change and turn it into real work that helped send Barack Obama to the White House. They instilled a passion for politics in me that I never lost.
I’ve already worked for/on: social business with Nobel Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and I then served as the Florida Digital Content Director for Obama for America in 2012. I am currently working on digital and public affairs for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for… a platform that includes the things that are particularly important to me.
I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors: I’m lucky to say that I have too many mentors to name. I have an incredible circle of family, friends, and former coworkers and managers that serve as my role models and advisors.
The people I most admire in politics are: Senators Elizabeth Warren, President Barack Obama, and Senator Ted Kennedy.
One lesson I’ve already learned is… it’s so important to balance life and work. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and don’t forget the people who have helped you get where you are. During the campaign, working almost eclipsed every other aspect of my life, particularly my social life. I can’t stress enough how important is it to care for your health and keep in regular contact with those you love.
If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be working in (which field)… I’d actually love to be a teacher, I have an incredible respect for those who dedicate their lives to educating the next generation.
In ten years, you’ll read about me… doing what I love (hopefully as a digital director for a future campaign) and surrounded by the people I love!
You can connect with me via Twitter @zara915.