Location: Minneapolis, MN, United States
- Issues Areas:
- Economic Justice
Campus: University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, MN
Fellowship Class Year: 2011
Featured Fellow Spotlight
YP4: What do you stand for? Racial Justice. Equality. Empowerment. Community.
YP4: What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Currently, my biggest achievement has been being the first person in my family to graduate from college.
YP4: What motivates and inspires you?
I draw my inspiration from my family, friends, and mentors. My motivation comes from those engaged in any form of social justice work. Talking to people about their work, and attending issue-based events really rejuvenates and motivates me.
YP4: What is your one main life goal that you want to accomplish? (What is your vision for the world?)
My main life goal would be to leave the world better place for future generations. My vision is that we all live in an equitable, sustainable, and inclusive society.
YP4: Tell me about your work.
I’ve been working on voter registration and civic engagement in the Somali community. My main goal is to get my community involved in the political process, so that their voices are heard, and they feel a part of the system.
YP4: How was YP4 influenced your work?
YP4 has been instrumental in my work. They’ve given me the tools, resources, and mentorship so that I can do my work. If I’m ever stuck, I know I can always call or email one of my many YP4 mentors. This is an amazing organization, and everyone is so impactful and inspirational.
YP4: Why do you want to do civic engagement work in your community? I come from an immigrant community that is very recent to the US; therefore, it is difficult for members of my community to navigate the political process. My community, like many immigrant communities, is facing high levels of poverty, a broken education system, inability to afford college, and so on. I want my community to self-advocate, but in order to do so, they must be engaged and aware of policy decisions that impact their every day life. Another big reason is that I want to defeat the two amendments that will be on the ballot for my state. I’ve found that many people in my community are unaware that these amendments are even on the ballot, despite that fact that the Voter ID amendment would disenfranchise large portions of my community.
YP4: What are you hoping to win for your community? Political and socio-economic gains, but more importantly, a sense of self-empowerment.
YP4: What encouragement do you have to those wanting to do civic engagement work?
First of all, YOU CAN DO IT. The civic engagement work that you will be doing is so crucial, given the voter suppression efforts that are happening all over the United States. You are/will be doing extraordinary and invaluable work, so keep that in mind when you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. I would encourage y’all to get friends, and family involved. Seek out organizations doing this type of work, and engage in some coalition building. The work may seem overwhelming at times, but just know that every conversation you have, every registration that you get is making a difference. And if it makes a difference, just know, a girl in MN is proud of you.
YP4: What is a struggle that you’ve faced or are facing in your work?
One issue I’ve faced is that I’m passionate about many things, and I also tend to think very structurally. I was looking at things from a “how do I dismantle these huge systems of oppression” lens, and that quickly becoming overwhelming. I had to step back, and realize that my work was allowing me to slowly chip away at systems of oppression. Also, realizing that it is humanly impossible to dismantle racism, classism, sexism, etc…on your own was really reassuring.
YP4: What advice do you have for others dealing with those struggles?
I would say narrow your focus if you are feeling overwhelmed. Take a step back, reassess your goals and vision for your blueprint, and then get back to it. It is often many small acts that make a big difference.
YP4: How can other fellows get involved or find more information about the work you’re doing?
I would encourage fellows to make themselves aware of any amendments that will be on their ballots. I would also urge them to research the voting requirements in their state, and disseminate this information. Get involved with organizations already doing the work, or be the one that starts that in your school, or community. YP4 is always a great resource.
YP4: What advice would you give to the new class of Fellows?
Make use of the many resources that YP4 will provide you. Get to know your cohort; they’ll all come with different stories and experiences. Be your authentic self and know what personally drives your work.
YP4: If every time you entered a room your theme song played, what would it be and why?
I’ve been playing “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys on repeat, so I guess that would be my theme song.
YP4: Is there anything else that you want to say?
I’m grateful for my YP4 experience, and shout outs to all those fighting the good fight.