Atif Qarni, Virginia’s new secretary education Photo: Views and News
Home to thriving diverse communities, Virginia took an important step this month to emphasize what America stands to benefit from – inclusiveness, pluralism and celebration of diversity.
In a momentous move for multicultural coexistence and shared prosperity, Governor Ralph Northam picked Pakistani-American academic Atif Qarni to serve as Secretary Education in his cabinet.
That decision came in the wake of unprecedented gains that politicians from Latino and African-American communities made in the State’s November 2017 gubernatorial election.
These hopeful political developments in Virginia take place in the midst of anti-immigrant rhetoric in Washington for a country that benefits from inflow of the best and the brightest from around the world every year.
The recognition of Virginia’s diversity also has a profound historical symbolism. It was here in Fredericksburg exactly 232 years ago that the State embraced Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as a law on January 16, 1786.
So, it was with a great sense of accomplishment, gratitude and celebration that members from several communities came together at an event held at Springfield Virginia’s Aabshaar Restaurant to mark Northam’s choice of Qarni as the secretary of education.
The underlying spirit of celebratory event – hosted by Chaudhry Akbar, a businessman and Adnan Bokhari, a financial analyst – was that America’s strength lies in its diveristy. Monique O’ Grady, the first African-American elected member the Arlington County School, noted this point, saying the recent gains have given a new confidence to multicultural communities of the State.
Elizabeth Guzman, the newly elected member to the House of Delegates, said her victory means a lot for the hardworking Latino community, and vowed to work for well being of all.
And for Atif Qarni, it was a moment of great personal happiness as well as a matter of pride for the community.
“It is a moment of pride for all of us,” said Qarni, whose father Shahab Qarni recounted how commitment to education is in the family’s DNA as his father and Atif’s grandfather came here to pursue higher education more than 60 years ago.
Lawrence Roberts, Chief of the Staff for Virginia’s Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, renewed the Democratic leaders’ commitment to respect for pluralism and coexistence of diverse cultures as part of one American community. Justin Fairfax and former congressman Tom Periello also sent their messages of goodwill and support for the celebratory event.
Had a great time at Beville Middle School this afternoon announcing one of their very own as our next Secretary of Education. Congratulations Atif Qarni. pic.twitter.com/eeB3tq3wJp
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) December 21, 2017
Ayesha Khan, a Pakistani-American, who is running for the House of Delegates in Maryland, encouraged everyone to be part of the political process in order to ensure that the United States remains a country where people of all backgrounds have equal access to progress. She said Atif Qarni has set an example for the young people to follow.
Besides hosts, Chaudhry and Bokhari, colleagues and friends of Atif Qarni praised his professional standing, saying Northam’s choice represents a recognition of his experience and commitment.
Amina Chaudary, Director TIM Media, noted that Atif is very loyal to his work and purpose and that has been the key quality in his professional success and earned him great respect and recognition.
Dr. Babur Lateef, a Democratic leader, said the most important reason that Atif Qarni has been chosen as secretary education is that he is the best available candidate for the position.