Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Ahmed Mostafa Interview: Foothill Alumni Turned Congressional Candidate

Ahmed+Mostafa+Interview%3A+Foothill+Alumni+Turned+Congressional+Candidate

Foothill alumni and former ASFC President Ahmed Mostafa is a congressional candidate for California’s 16th District. We sat down with the would-be Congressmen as he shared his story and his message to young people. 

When asked how he got involved in politics he opened up about his humble beginnings here at Foothill College running for President of the ASFC. “Foothill College was the start – I’ll never forget, walking into the ASFC student government office at Foothill College and grabbing my application to student government” he remembered fondly. The decision filled him with adrenaline. “When I grabbed my application, my hand was shaking and I didn’t even realize it. I had no idea I was shaking until I had the paper in my hand and I could hear it rustling.”

These nerves did not prevent Mostafa from chasing his ambitious goals. “I went into the student government council meeting, and I was like, I’m gonna be the student body president here and, we’re gonna change the world together, and I remember everyone looking at me like ‘who is this guy?’” However, he soon won them over as he won his election with the largest margin in school history.

He reminisced on his biggest accomplishments as president. “At the time, there were budget cuts in Sacramento and education was being defunded, yet we still did incredible things at Foothill like securing funding for tutorial services and I was able to open up three classes required for transfer.” He smiled saying “I don’t know if Daphne Small [Faculty Director of Student Leadership] is still there – You can ask her and she’ll put in a good word for me.”

When asked what advice he has for community college students who have a desire to pursue the world of politics he expressed that community college – specifically Foothill was and is a tremendous place to pursue your goals. “Foothill Community College changed my life. I’m a big proponent of community colleges.” He elaborates on how to navigate community college; “I would say my advice, anyone in community college, not just those not just those seeking futures in politics, is to keep working hard – I would say community college is the foundation of dreams because we’re all here for some reason, a lot of us are here because we have a dream we’re not giving up on. You know, whether it’s you didn’t do well in high school or you’re coming back after sometime – anything like that.” 

He stressed the importance of taking advantage of the knowledge and care that you can receive from community college professors “The professors there – they’re actually there because they want to teach. At your UCs, at Stanford – etcetera a lot of them are there because they wanna research. they don’t want to teach you.” He pays respect to the late Professor and author Konnilyn Feig as a shining example, saying “One of my professors who initially believed in me, may she may rest in peace, her name was Konnilyn Feig – someone of her stature to really believe in me, to actually tell other people like ‘I believe Ahmed’s going to change the world.’ That changed my life because I wasn’t always that confident. That was huge for me.”

While on the topic of college, we thought it was relevant to ask Mostafa what his plans were for higher education, as this greatly affects our audience. He stated, “I think we need to forgive student loans and provide free tuition for public universities like the California master plan for higher education.” He talks about the impact this could have on young people’s lives, explaining that “Back in the day, no matter what you did, whether you were a waitress or a janitor, if you wanted to become like a doctor or a neuroscientist. You were like okay, I have free college potentially so they were hustling going to classes tonight trying to get their degrees and nowadays, those same people who might have that dream may not have the money to accomplish it.” He told about his history of fighting on this issue going back to his college years as Student Body Vice President at UCSB fighting for a bill that “would have made UC tuition, if your family made under 150k, just $4,000 a year.”

College Tuition prices as well as many other issues have led young voters to be disaffected with the electoral process. We wanted to know how he planned to reach out to them and, if he were elected, what he would do to fight for them. He brought up an example of his ability to engage with potential youth voters saying he “registered 10,000-12,000 students to vote” as Student Body Vice President at UCSB. “Without those students it would have been a red district.”

“I think the biggest thing is to have politicians, who tell people you actually matter, these are the policies that I’m going to do for you, and with my election your life will get better not just five years from now, but 30 years from now, I will work to make your life better, your children’s lives better, that’s what you can count on me for. I’m not going to prioritize corporations over you,” he says, explaining that he and other politicians should connect with young people. “I’ll tell you what the problem is; our leaders don’t really prioritize human beings – you have elected leaders who follow the policies of corporate interest groups and not necessarily following policies for the people.”

One example he gave of this phenomenon is climate change. “You all were in the Bay area these last few years. You saw the orange skies. You saw the devastation of climate change here but there’s sometimes corporate interests at play.” He refers to the influence of oil and gas companies and their sway on politics.

He highlights how healthcare policy faces a lot of the same challenges by sharing a story about his grandfather. “My grandfather’s Egyptian and he came to visit me just for two weeks – I found him on my bed with stroke-like symptoms. I took him to the hospital immediately. Stanford Hospital – when they said that he began to regain consciousness and he was like, ‘How much is this gonna cost?’ They said $300,000. He said ‘Absolutely not. I’m going to walk out.’ I was like, ‘No you’re not like we’re going to get you the healthcare that you need.‘“

Mostafa paused for a moment. “But that kind of question and the fact that people have to answer that question is terrifying in America in the richest part of the richest country in the world – we need to prioritize humans, not pharmaceuticals. Not health insurance companies.” He drove home his point saying “That is how you get people to vote, you say that you will prioritize them and not the corporate or special interests. And there’s a multitude of other examples.”

One such example we discussed is particularly important right now, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. “Tell you something crazy. It shouldn’t be crazy, but I’m the only candidate in my race running on a permanent immediate ceasefire platform.” He continues that “50% of Republicans support a ceasefire and the overwhelming majority of Democrats support ceasefire. So who are we negotiating on behalf of?” Connecting this issue to his larger point about special interests outweighing the will of the people. He synthesized this idea further, continuing that “My ceasefire stance – it’s not an Arab thing, it’s not a Muslim thing – it’s a human thing. That’s the thing with my healthcare stances and that’s the same thing with my environmental Justice stances – it’s about serving humans.”

Mostafa shared many other instances of doing his best to serve people. Whether it’s through his Pro-Bono clinic to protect women’s rights or through his time working at Google combating misinformation and hate speech. His main takeaway was that he wanted to serve on behalf of everyone. “I don’t want to fall into the trap of preaching to just progressives. I want to reach the country as a whole. To people in the Midwest who are dependent on Obamacare and are like ‘You know, I like the Affordable Care Act, but I hate Obamacare,’ when it’s the same thing. It’s the politics that makes it seem like they’re different – rather than preach to my district, which is what a lot of progressives do, I want to reach the country on these issues like, hey, it’s about your life. It’s about humanity, and I’m gonna protect you regardless of what you said in the past or what you used to believe.” 

When it was time to part ways we asked if there was anything else he wanted to share with the Foothills student body, and he capped off the conversation by saying “We all have the ability to change the world and nobody should tell you otherwise.”

For more information about Mostafa and his campaign go to: https://www.ahmedforcongressca.com/

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About the Contributor
Michael Love, Political Editor
Michael Love is a Political Science Major at Foothill College. A big fan of music, he is also a Hip Hop Recording Artist and performs at live shows frequently. Michaels' first piece with The Script is a review of the play "Into The Woods".

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