Aesha Abduljabbar was recently elected the first Muslim woman American River College Associated Student Body Student Senate President, with 226 votes in the 2019 student elections.
On April 9 and 10, students voted for candidates for both Student Senate and Clubs and Events Board (CAEB) positions online, totaling in 424 votes.
“It’s an honor for me being the first Muslim president at ARC,” Abduljabbar said in an email to the Current. “I wouldn’t have been able to get elected if it weren’t for the incredible students on campus that gave me this opportunity, and the great faculty that taught me how to be a good leader.”
Abduljabbar said she faced many challenges reaching this position, but also said she believes anything can be accomplished with hard work and passion.
Rebeca Rico-Chavez is the current ASB Senate President; her time in office will end at the end of this semester. In an email interview, Rico-Chavez shared her happiness knowing that her successor is a woman.
“The last three Student Senate presidents, including myself, are women and I believe this is an amazing accomplishment,” Rico-Chavez said. “Being president, one has to keep in mind at all times that we represent and advocate for all students regardless of age, ethnicity [or] political beliefs.”
ARC is a diverse college, home to students from different religions and backgrounds and Abduljabbar says she has a unique perspective and understanding of being from different culture.
“I will represent all the students on campus with every inch of my heart, because that is my purpose, and that is my passion,” Abduljabbar said.
ASB Advisor Brett Sawyer said it’s great that ARC chose Abduljabbar.
“The newly elected board is fairly diverse, and represents many of our outstanding learning communities and programs on campus,” Sawyer said. “I am excited to work with this new board and see what ideas and goals they will work on.”
Abduljabbar says she has worked hard to get familiar and prepare for leadership roles before she joined ASB.
“I wanted to be a good leader, so I started reading more leadership books and watch(ed) many Ted Talks,” Abduljabbar said. “I talked to the students on campus and asked what concerns them [and] what changes did they want to see on campus. That made me feel more prepared.”
Rico-Chavez shared her experience being ASB President with Abduljabbar.
“The greatest lesson that I learned and that I would like to pass down to the President-elect is that we have to put aside what we think is the best answer to a problem and allow our peers to contribute their own ideas,” Rico-Chavez said.
According to Rico-Chavez, the most efficient work is done when leaders allow space for others to become leaders in their own way.
Both Student Senate and CAEB officers terms start on June 1 and continue until May 31, 2020. The official swearing in ceremony for new board members will be May 9.