Ilham Omar: US Congress Woman

I would have loved to have heard a story like mine. I could have used it as an inspiration to get by. The lesson is to be hopeful, to dream and to aspire for more

 How do you turn the lemons life throws at you into lemonade? Lock down your goals and persevere despite any adversity life may throw at you.

Ilham Omar was born on the 4th of October, 1981 in Mogadishu and was raised in Baydhabo, Somalia. Her Somali father worked as a teacher trainer. Her mother of Benadiri descent died when she was a child. She is the youngest of 7 siblings.

In 1991 after the civil war broke out, Omar and her family left the country for Kenya where they stayed at the Utango refugee camp for four years and remembered walking through streets strewn with debris and corpses during the war. She described the conditions in the camp as isolated and rudimentary in a jungle setting with limited sanitation and quite a number of deaths from malaria.

In 1995, her family arrived in the US under a resettlement program. They first settled in Arlington, Virginia before moving to Minneapolis. She learned English in just 3 months. Her father and grandfather instilled the importance of democracy in her upbringing, so at 14, she would accompany her grandfather to caucus meetings serving as his translator. She became a US citizen in 2000 at the age of 17.

Omar attended Edison High School and volunteered as a student organizer. In 2011, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies from North Dakota State University. She was also a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Her professional career began in 2006 where she worked as a community nutrition educator at the University of Minnesota. In 2012, she served as campaign manager for Kari Dziedzic’s reelection campaign for the Minnesota State Senate. Between 2012 and 2013, she was a child nutrition outreach coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Education.

In 2013, Omar was the manager for Andrew Johnson’s campaign for Minneapolis City Council. After he was elected, she served as his Senior Policy Aide from 2013 to 2015. In September 2015, Omar became the Director of Policy & Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network. The association clamors for women from East Africa to take on civic and political leadership roles

In 2016, Omar ran for Minnesota House of Rep using the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) ticket , Omar won the general election, becoming the first Somali American legislator in the United States.

She supports a $15 hourly minimum wage and free tuition for college students whose family income is below $125,000 as well as better access to student loan forgiveness programs. She is an Assistant Minority Leader for the DFL caucus.

she’s the first Muslim Somali-American woman in Congress, after having defeated  Republican Jennifer Zielinski in the 2018 midterms.

Omar is married with 3 kids.

 

 

 

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