Campus & community, People, Profiles

First-year Khwal Rafique: ‘I want to represent my community in politics’

"I really like how Berkeley’s history includes a lot of politically active students," says the 17-year-old, from Lodi, California

Portrait of Khwal Rafique talking

First-year student Khwal Rafique, 17, is from Lodi, California. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

“Ever since I was 4 or 5 years old, my dad would let me sit on the couch and watch the news with him. Every day, I would choose to sit with him — he never forced me to. My family is Pakistani, so a lot of the time, we would watch Pakistani news.

I remember being in first grade when my teacher — her name was Mrs. Sloan — asked the class if any of us knew where Afghanistan was. And I just sat there, thinking, ‘What 6-year-old doesn’t know where Afghanistan is?’ Turns out, I was the only one in the class who knew where Afghanistan was.

As I grew up, I realized how we don’t have a lot of Muslim women in the political world. Much less, Pakistani women. I grew up in Lodi — my community is so immigrant-based and so ethnically diverse. I want to represent my community in politics. I think it’s so vital. I feel like I can do that for them.

I really like how Berkeley’s history includes a lot of politically active students. Right away, I heard about the ASUC and how they did a lot of lobbying and were so involved in what goes on around on campus. I already applied to be under Senator Sumrit Grewal, who aims to unify the MEMSSA — Middle Eastern Muslim Sikh and South Asian — community. I’m eager to grow the inclusivity in the political world.

I know it’s a lot to come in as a freshman, hoping to be politically active on campus. We’ll see where it takes me.”