Raaheela Ahmed, 21, this fall entering her senior year at the University of Maryland, College Park, has been named by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley a student representative on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. Her one-year term began July 1.
The Indian American’s appointment was made through an emergency executive order by the Maryland governor due to a stipulation that the governor can’t normally appoint individuals to state posts after the primary election, which was moved up from September to June this year in Maryland.
The appointment will be voted on by the state Senate during the upcoming legislative session — likely as part of a “green bag" of nominations. However, the appointment was effective immediately, O’Malley’s office said in an Aug. 8 press release.
Currently pursuing a double degree in finance and economics at the University of Maryland, Ahmed previously ran for the District 5 seat on the board of education in Prince George’s County, Md., in 2012. She lost in a close race by a 53% to 47% margin.
She will represent on the university board more than 150,000 students in 12 institutions and two regional centers.
Ahmed told India-West by e-mail that her focus on the board would mainly be on the issues of college affordability, financial literacy and mental health.
Regarding affordability, she said, “A number of students have lost financial aid and work study due to federal cuts. This puts the pressure on the state government to maintain certain levels of affordability in this time of need. Affordability has and will continue to be a main concern for students in the long-run.”
Asked about financial literacy, she responded, “I firmly believe in empowering individuals to be self-sufficient in order for them to become positive social change agents in society…I’ve been advocating for financial literacy in high schools since my 2012 political run for the school board…and look forward to bringing personal finance curriculum, policy or programs to my fellow college-going peers.”
“Mental health,” she added, “is often one of those issues that is not discussed nearly enough because of the negative stigma attached to its victims. It’s time that we remove shame, fear and stigma from the equation and admit that this is a problem in our universities.”
Ahmed is the daughter of Shukoor and Nabeela Ahmed of Bowie, Md.
Her father, a well-known entrepreneur and angel investor originally from Hyderabad, India, is the founder and CEO of Bowie-based V-Empower, Inc., and of several Web sites that enable voter and candidate organizing in the U.S. and India.
He has also run for the Maryland House of Delegates three times, losing in the Democrat primary for the District 23A seat most recently in 2010 and an independent candidate for the same seat this year, election site Ballotpedia reports.
Asked about her father’s influence on her civic life, the student regent said, “He has made a huge impact on my aspirations to pursue public service. He lives the life of a dreamer, always appreciative for where he is at and what he has done, but still looking forward to being able to do even bigger and better things…all service-based initiatives. By living this lifestyle, he has instilled a passion for service in me and my sister as well.”
Her mother, a pharmacist for over 20 years, she pointed out, “has been able to assist hundreds of people. My mother always puts the needs of others before herself. She is a great role model for me in addition to being my confidant, my biggest cheerleader, my encourager and my rock. She is the kindest person I know.”