Author: Cecilia Ramirez, C’05, SPP’10
It is always great to see fellow Penn alumni doing great things around the world. I was especially pleased to discover that a Quaker was running for office right in Penn’s backyard!
Fatimah Muhammad, a 2006 College graduate and former associate director of Penn’s Greenfield Intercultural Center, is running for state representative of the 188th District — an area that circles almost all of University City. She is running against the 27-year incumbent James Roebuck, Jr. in the April Democratic primaries, who has held the 188th Legislative District seat for almost as long as she’s been alive.*
She hopes to capture the seat and bring a fresh perspective to the state house. She spoke to the Daily Pennsylvanian as well as myself and shared some of her thoughts about this campaign:
What are your goals and vision? It’s time to be able to let fresh ideas, new perspectives come to the table. I am young, with fresh ideas, and I’m a woman. There is a time for change, and the time is now. I’m especially passionate about education. I have been an educator and community organizer and I understand their importance. If the district’s children are properly educated, jobs and safer streets will follow. These three items are my top priorities for the district.
What makes you so passionate about education? As a youngster, I knew I wanted to have a life that would provide opportunities. I was homeless at the early age of 8 and my single mom worked hard to make life better for us. I worked hard in school to accomplish my goals and dreams. What might be different about my story is that from the beginning, I knew I wanted to use what I learned to help other children, families and my community. I wanted to use my diverse background and training to build bridges out of poverty to an economically-, artistically- and culturally-rich life for others and myself. My training at Penn has been integral to this process. I have been fortunate and blessed to share what I have learned to help others in Ghana and India; I have taken the West Philadelphia story on the international stage with President Bill Clinton to fight for human rights. I have stayed in my community to make a difference and I am ready to take it to the next level as State Representative.
How did your experience as a Penn undergraduate and with the GIC lead you to run for office? Well, I’ve always been a bridge builder. As a student at Penn, I got a taste for coalition building; I got a taste for what it means to do things on a large scale. We were some of the students who pushed for the cultural diversity requirement in the curriculum in the College, pushed for additional recruitment for minority students and faculty. But we were also really big about having powerful conversations about people coming together. Then, in my role as associate director [of GIC], I got to support students in co-curricular programs, I advised student organizations and I got an opportunity to teach as well, which is terrific. My time at Penn has been pivotal and I am proud to bring these experiences to the table.
Way to go Fatimah! You make Penn proud! If you’d like to learn more about Fatimah’s campaign, please visit her site.
*Please note: some of this information was gathered from the March 14, 2012 issue of the DP. Full article can be viewed here.