A Presidential Prospect: Umar Ahmed


Gubernatorial candidate J.B Pritzker with junior Umar Ahmed, who volunteers on his campaign.

By Wyatt Zwik, Staff Writer

Politics in recent years have come to dominate the American media, inspiring many teenagers to take a more active role. One of these politically-minded teens is junior Umar Ahmed, who was inspired by the 2016 presidential election.

Ahmed realizes that politics has a huge impact on everybody, which is one thing which provokes his interest in the subject.

“It was something that was particularly compelling to me. I started watching the news, especially in 2016, when things started heating up,” Ahmed said. “Even prior to that, early on in the primaries, I was very interested because it’s something that implicates all of us- who the next president is. That’s when I really started getting politically engaged.”

At school, Ahmed stays involved with various clubs, such as debate, to learn more about politics.

“Clubs are a good way to foster political engagement. PACE [Politics and Current Events] is one where you can engage in discussions and learn about various issues that you may not normally talk about,” Ahmed said. “Policy debate is another one where I have the opportunity to talk about politics and different policy agenda items that are happening right now, like when Trump’s tax plan was happening, it was something that we debated a lot about. Another is Model UN, if you actually want to engage in international discussions. A lot of times, the Security Council and General Assembly will talk about current ongoing matters.”

Outside of school, staying up-to-date with current events is an important part of politics, so doing a variety of politically engaging activities helps keep Ahmed informed.

“I actually get involved with different policies and issues that I believe in. Just recently there was a bill, HB40, which was going to mess with abortion rights, which was an example of people going out and reaching their local representative,” Ahmed said. “I also stay active with campaigns whenever there are any. Last year there was a mayoral campaign in Lincolnwood, and I canvassed for Mayor Terry. I also worked on the Clinton,  Schakowsky, and Duckworth campaigns in 2016, and I’ve been working on the J.B Pritzker gubernatorial campaign.”

Fellow junior Dat Luu has experienced Ahmed’s passion for politics first hand.

“He volunteered for J.B Pritzker during the Illinois Democratic primary. He’s very involved with that; he spends hours on that through canvassing,” Luu said. “He’s also the vice-president of politics club. We [Luu and Ahmed] reestablished it as a club, and it’s been going strong for the past several months now. Additionally, he reads a lot and just informs himself.”

As a student in Joseph Edwards’s AP Government class, Edwards has directly seen Ahmed’s political drive.

“He’s a great kid. Sometimes he goes for the joke instead, but he’s bright enough to talk about the serious issues. He’s also definitely very outgoing, and not afraid to talk to people or to talk about different issues,” Edwards said.

However, there still remains one question: will Ahmed ever actually run for office?

“I’d like to think I’d run for political office one day since I want to know I contributed to something, I want to know I contributed to my community,” Ahmed said. “I want to see policy decisions that are being made help myself and others in my community and push values and ideals I believe in. President is ambitious, but perhaps. Perhaps. Just like most people say when they’re asked this question, I’m going to keep my options open.”