Welcome to Women in Politics: College Edition, where promising women leaders in student government on college and university campuses across the country will be featured on msnbc.com over the course of the year. Zainab Kandeh has been nominated by Ohio University as a leader making a difference not only through key issues on campus, but in bridging the gender gap in politics.
As part of a new series at msnbc, “Women of 2014,” these hand-selected women become part of a larger discussion of women candidates and women’s issues on a national level. “Women of 2014” is a home for all women in politics – notably those in some of the year’s most pivotal races – with newsmaker interviews, profiles, photos, a Twitter trail following more than 35 candidates, and deep dives into the key conversations.
Name: Zainab Kandeh
College: Ohio University, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism
Hometown: Delaware, Ohio
Organizations involved in on campus: Student Senate: Treasurer; Students in Philanthropy: Chair; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc,: Scholarship Chair
Dream job: My dream job is to start and run a philanthropy dedicated to empowering, educating and creating safe places for children to grow, learn and accomplish their goal. I would love to establish this philanthropy not only in the United States but also around the world.
Class year: 2015
What is your biggest challenge as a leader on campus?
My biggest challenge as a leader on campus is ensuring that people, especially students, feel empowered and comfortable enough to express their needs, wants, concerns and grievances. Conflict for some can be intimidating but as a leader, I believe it is important to be informed enough to assist a student or know of the appropriate resources and administrators who can better assist them, especially in very sensitive cases.
As a leader, I also believe that my greatest challenge is also to serve as a mentor and help others realize their own leadership style and how to work effectively in teams. Often times it is easy to accomplish task and leave a transition report for one’s successor but I believe that through delegating task, making oneself an available resource for others and knowing when to allow others to take a lead role establishes a strong foundation and encourages a tradition of empowerment and excellence.
Which female leaders do you draw inspiration from?
Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Michelle Obama, Jane Addams and Malala Yousafzai inspire me. I am most inspired by these women because they have not only triumphed in the face of adversity and achieved success but they have also dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others. I am also very much inspired by women such as my mother, my mentors and the faculty, staff and administrators of Ohio University as well as my peers. I greatly appreciate and the many women that I have been fortunate enough to cross paths with whose influence has helped mold me into the leader that I am today.
What comes to mind first when you think about important moments in history?
Sewn through the pages of history are a plethora of important moments. One of my favorite moments in history took place on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is most often reverenced for being the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic, “I Have a Dream” speech but I believe the gathering of some 250,000 people is what made August 28 a special day in history.
From every corner of the nation with faces that reflected hues from every line of the spectrum with an array of ages, religions and economic statuses, people arrived by bus, train and car or watched from home as it aired on television, rallied in song, peace and the hope to change what was wrong in America. Tenacious, unified and ignited with a fire in their bellies to make the nation a better place for all human kind, efforts such as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom helped Congress later pass and President Lyndon B. Johnson sign into law the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
What do you think should be President Obama’s No. 1 priority?
The number one priority that I believe President Obama and Congress as well as state and locally elected politicians need to focus on is education, at all levels. Student loan debt and the rising cost of tuition at many institutions is a major issue that I believe demands attention and while initiatives have been put in place to alleviate the hardship of student loan debt, I believe there is more to be done and can be done. Focusing and being dedicated to rebuilding education, as a pillar in every community despite its socio-economic background is a cause that I believe also deserves immediate attention. Schools foster knowledge, innovation and goals but also serve as places of safety, food and a support system not only for children but their families as well. Education time and time again has proven itself a panacea to poverty, violence and crime. I believe that by improving education on all fronts every community in America will reach an in time maximize its full potential.
Do you plan to run for political office someday? Why/why not?
While I do not know what the future holds I do believe in dreaming big. I do hope to one day serve my community in a political capacity but what I know for sure is that I will always advocate for what is right and help others any way I can in whatever it is I do.
You can see all student leaders featured here
To nominate an exceptional undergraduate female leader in student government please email Anna Brand at Anna.Brand@nbcuni.com