Beginning At home
My parents, Anwhar and Stephanie, decided to move the family to Clear Lake because of the great public schools. After growing up overseas, university brought them to Texas and work brought them to Houston. They found exactly what they were looking for in Clear Lake: affordable housing, a welcoming community, and schools that taught their students to dream big.
Our household growing up included my younger brother Philip and my grandmother, Khadija. We lived off Repsdorph and 146, giving me just enough time to get three to four Tim McGraw songs in on the morning rides to Bay Elementary. My parents’ investment in Clear Lake would continue to pay off through the years. I got the chance to attend the WAVE program at Webster Intermediate and even earned a rebate check for graduating a year early from Clear Lake High School, which helped me pay for college at UT Austin.
the importance of participating
Growing up we were taught the importance of civic engagement. Dad was born in South Africa and his family wasn’t allowed to vote, so every election day he would take us with him so we could see the beauty of American democracy. Generations of Texans built our great state based on a willingness to compromise and focusing on what matters most -- building for the generations to come. Dad made sure his children knew that you can disagree with someone and still have a reasonable conversation.
the next steps
AT UT, I majored in math and economics. I used my time after classes to find a way to put everything I learned into action. I started working for Rep. Lloyd Doggett answering constituent phone calls. I learned it is the sworn duty of an elected leader to stay connected with the community by actively responding to their real, everyday problems.
By far the greatest memento of my time at the University of Texas is my wife, Bijal. We met at a stop light party - both wearing green of course. And while we had a class together, she realized early on that my real passion was in government, and kindly shared her notes.
When the economy crashed in 2009, I weathered the storm at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. I also continued to serve by working in the mail room and responding to emails at the White House. I graduated in 2012 with a masters in public policy and a masters in economics.
Sadly, Dad became very sick that year. Our family had the good fortune of living near the largest medical center in the country (and having insurance) so he received excellent care. Unfortunately, despite their efforts, he passed away and it left my family forever changed.
learning about the world
In the fall of 2012, my first job was at Morgan Stanley. I worked in the municipal bond group, learning how property taxes, gas taxes, and airline fees get used to build our schools, highways, and airports. After a few years, I left and moved to California.
Starting in 2014, I worked as a research analyst for Uber crafting reports on how technology could improve transportation and the economy in communities across the nation. A year and a half ago, I was asked to come back to Texas where I worked with the state legislature to pass statewide regulations for ridesharing. Remembering Dad’s words, the legislation was passed with overwhelming, bipartisan majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Politics is never going to be comfortable, and we are never going to agree on everything. But it shouldn’t make us turn away in disgust, and if we’re honest and reasonable with each other, we can continue our tradition of moving Texas forward and dreaming big.