A woman elected to the Fairfax County School Board this week is the first Libyan-American ever elected in the country.
Abrar Omeish, 24, also is one of the youngest people ever elected in Virginia and one of the first Muslim women elected in the commonwealth.
“Those are certainly accomplishments,” she said. “The reason they’re relevant is we broke barriers.”
A Yale double major, Omeish hopes Fairfax County students are encouraged by seeing a young minority board member.
“Having a young voice is absolutely critical, especially for an education role, because students have felt a connection, felt that they can trust me, have brought their challenges to me, and that enables me then to bring that to the policy table and hopefully fix some of those,” she said.
Omeish said she faced ageist and racist attacks during the campaign. Racism was spewed from people she’s known personally for years, she said.
“It’s one thing for people to be misinformed from a distance and to have stereotypes but another thing for folks to look beyond everything they know about me and just cling on to those things for political reasons or whatever,” she said.
Omeish said she’s prepared and well-qualified to represent Fairfax County students and families on issues such as sustainable facilities, access to mental health resources and vaping.
She said her difficult road to the school board makes her all the more capable and eager to begin.
“My experience in marginalization as a result of this race and just my upbringing growing up empowers me to want to elevate every voice out there,” she said.
The new Fairfax County School Board starts work in January.