HOPKINS, Minnesota – A Muslim woman has been elected to Hopkins school board, becoming the first Somali-American woman to be elected to this board and the second to be elected to public office.
“It shows our district is ready to move forward,” Fartun Ahmed said, commenting on the huge number of people who voted on the school board, Lakeshore Weekly News reported.
“It shows our district is open to connecting and engaging with someone despite the differences they may have,” she added.
Ahmed was elected last November 7 as part of a bloc with Chris LaTondresse and Jen Westmoreland-Bouchard.
The bloc won the three seats in a huge turnout nearly double that of two years ago.
Barb Westmoreland, the mother of board member-elect Westmoreland-Bouchard, described people’s support for Ahmed.
“For many of these people, they just had a lot of questions. They were really curious; they wanted to talk with a Muslim woman who wears a hijab,” Westmoreland said.
Ahmed, 26, was born in Somalia and moved to the United States when she was 3. She finished high school in 2009 with a GPA of 4.0 and moved on to study at Metropolitan State University.
During her undergraduate years, Ahmed was appointed to committees formed by US Rep. Keith Ellison and US Attorney Andrew Luger. Later, she obtained a full-ride dual masters from the University of Chicago.
“She’s a standard bearer for her family,” Westmoreland said.
“First one to go to college, she has a master’s degree … for her to come back to this community and say ‘I really want to be a part of it and I want to make it better,’ I just admire her so much for these values.”
Ahmed is grateful for Hopkins Schools and the resources the district provided for her family when she entered schools, she said.
“It shows you what America is that my parents — who had no idea, who had never gone to school, who don’t even know how to read or write in Somali — can raise this daughter who can be elected to a political position in an office,” she said, “and that’s what America is.”
Earlier this month, another Somali America, Abdi Warsame, won a seat on the Minneapolis city council.