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U-Md. student who nearly won Pr. George’s school board seat tapped for regents seat

Raaheela Ahmed, the teenager who nearly defeated Verjeana Jacobs, the then-chairman of the Prince George’s County Board of Education two years ago, has been selected by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to serve a one-year term as the student member on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

Ahmed, 21, attends the University of Maryland in College Park, majors in both Finance and Economics and plans to graduate in May.

“I’m happy to have this position,” Ahmed said. “I’m ready to hustle.”

Ahmed has not formally had her orientation but she has taken it upon herself to tour the system’s institutions and regional center. She has trekked from Frostburg State University to Salisbury University to Towson University.

“I just want to get a better understanding of the campuses and the students,” she said. “I figure the only way to do that is to walk in their shoes.”

Raaheela Ahmed (Courtesy of Raaheela Ahmed)

As a member of the 17-member board, Ahmed will help oversee the university system’s academic, administrative and financial operations; formulate policy; and appoint the USM chancellor and the presidents of the system’s 12 institutions.

In 2012, Ahmed was the lead vote-getter in the primary election in a crowded race for the District 5 seat on the county Board of Education. She ultimately lost the general election to Jacobs by six percentage points.

Ahmed was one of three college students who ran for school board (two were teenagers). Edward Burroughs (District 8), who has served on the board for seven years, was the only one who captured a seat.

Ahmed said she learned several life lessons from her campaign for school board, lessons that she believes will make her a better member of the Board of Regents.

She said that to be an effective leader, you have to have “hard work, commitment and drive,” arguing that not everyone who is in a “position of power” has those qualities.

She plans to reach out to students on campus “to understand where they are coming from and to represent them the best way I know how.”

Ahmed plans to focus during her term on college affordability, financial literacy and mental health issues.

Part of Ahmed’s platform during her run for the school board centered around financial literacy.

“I want to help ensure that students don’t leave here not knowing the best way to handle their future,” Ahmed said.

According to her biography, she has participated in a number of programs during the last three years in college, including the Hinman CEOs Technology Entrepreneurship Program, the Emerging CFOs Fellows Program and the Maryland Internship Program.

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.



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