My family and I came from Afghanistan as refugees on May 15, 1981. I was eleven years old, in a land with an unfamiliar language and customs, where my only possession was the clothes I was wearing. My father drove a taxi cab to support his wife and seven kids. Within two years of our arrival, an unfortunate car accident caused him to become disabled and very depressed, which threatened my family's livelihood. Thus, at age 13, my mother asked me to find work to help support the family. According to my Social Security Income (SSI) statement in 1983, I earned $1,821 when the minimum wage was $3.05. I had to overcome cultural and language barriers, but I worked hard and did well in middle and high school.
I graduated from James Logan High school and was the first person in my family to attend a four-year university: University of California, at Santa Barbara (UCSB). Following in my footsteps, my younger sister went to UCSB and studied political sciences. She is now an attorney. My younger brother went to University of California, at Los Angeles (UCLA). He is now a medical doctor. My youngest sister became a chemist at UCSB and now works in the Silicon Valley.
For me, success has always meant helping others. I was a researcher at UCSB and UCLA for nine years, as well as a Real Estate agent for another twelve years.
Through volunteering with International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Oakland, and MCC in East Bay, I found my true calling.
Three years ago, I was honored to be appointed to the Housing Commission by Mayor Jerry Thorne. There, I learned that discussions on affordable housing can be uncomfortable, complicated, and difficult, but also learned that through these conversations real change can take place.
After publication of Blueprint 2050, Covid-19 reports, and Plan Bay Area 2050 I believe our communities are ready to acknowledge and embraced the housing challenges ahead of us. We are ready to address it in ways to solve not just the housing issue, but transportation, environmental and economic growth for everyone. I am proud to part of this historical social-economic movement.
Zarina Kiziloglu, MPA
Candidate for Pleasanton Council
When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.