Mohammed Alam (AOF ’09) hopes to be the first Muslim president of the United States, but politics was not his first passion. In fact, he originally wanted to go into medicine, until he started to realize how business and politics impacted so many aspects of his life.
While Mohammed didn’t see his interest in politics coming, it runs in his family—several of his uncles are ministers in Bangladesh. When Mohammed was in high school at the Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Queens, New York, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States.
“I always thought having an Islamic background would not allow me to be in politics. Seeing America elect its first black president changed my mind,” said Mohammed.
Mohammed is a Senator of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at City College and is interning in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) office. He plans on running for the U.S Congress to represent New York’s 7th District in 2016. (The minimum age to run for Congress is 25).
“My parents cringe at the fact that I’m going into politics,” he said. While his parents are proud of Mohammed’s accomplishments—he and his siblings are the first in the family to go to college—they are worried about him facing anti-Islamic discrimination in the political field.
As an intern for Senator Gillibrand, Mohammed writes formal letters, plans budgets and creates business plans, all skills he learned while in the academy. His internship has also allowed him to rub elbows with various political figures.
“The first time I met [Gillibrand] it was kind of surreal. I’d never met a public official before,” he said. Eventually Mohammed met Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), former governor of New York, Elliot Spitzer, and Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign event for Senator Gillibrand.
He serves on the Academy of Finance and Enterprise’s advisory board.
He plans to move forward with his political aspirations by applying for a summer internship with Senator Gillibrand in her Washington, D.C. office and by beginning his campaign to run for president of his college’s student government.
“Every group has had hard times and persevered and now is a hard time for Muslims. I love politics enough for me to stay in it, even if it will be hard for me.”