Oak Park Alumni: Kimia Mohebi

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Oak Park Alumni: Kimia Mohebi

As a UN delegate, Mohebi attends the United Nation’s 63rd Commission on the Status of Women in New York

As a UN delegate, Mohebi attends the United Nation’s 63rd Commission on the Status of Women in New York

Photo courtesy of Kimia Mohebi

As a UN delegate, Mohebi attends the United Nation’s 63rd Commission on the Status of Women in New York

Photo courtesy of Kimia Mohebi

Photo courtesy of Kimia Mohebi

As a UN delegate, Mohebi attends the United Nation’s 63rd Commission on the Status of Women in New York

By Sravya Gadepalli, Oak Park High School

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Furthermore, what do walkouts, tea parties and Germany all have in common? Yet again, Oak Park High School alumna Kimia Mohebi.

Now a freshman at Moorpark Community College, Mohebi has been on the forefront for local change as an activist and recently elected official as the Assembly District Delegate for the 44th District of California for the California Democratic Party.

“I was surprised when I was elected by our community, because I was the youngest candidate — literally only 18 years old. I was so happy that I was given the opportunity to represent my district, specifically students, people of color and the immigrants here,” Mohebi said.

Mohebi graduated from Oak Park High in 2018 where she was an active member of the Oak Park Band, the Talon and also social activism. Mohebi was the lead student in planning National School Walkout Day March 14 following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“I knew that I had to step up for these kids, and for kids like us. High school is a place for education, not guns. In particular, my appreciation and involvement in activism was catalyzed by journalism. I covered the Las Vegas massacre and vigil and I also covered the story of the Conejo Valley School Board ‘opt in’ policy for books,” Mohebi said. “I was incredibly inspired because I was able to personally look at the marriage between journalism and politics in a way that I would not have been able to otherwise.”

However, her love for activism did not stem from journalism. Mohebi, herself, is an immigrant from Germany and became a United States citizen as a high school senior.

“I immigrated here when I was only 5 years old with my single mother, and I had to learn a new language to try and assimilate myself into a new culture, and this was a struggle for me. Yet, this also taught me the difficulties of being an immigrant and the levels of privilege that come from being a citizen,” Mohebi said. “Each person’s immigrant story is unique and different. Every person’s story is beautiful and shows the strength of the human condition. I see that strength emulated in my mom’s story and my own story.”

Today, Mohebi continues to put her energy into programs such as the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley as a Youth Chairperson and also as the founder of the Moorpark College Democrats. Mohebi said her job is to garner youth membership and get young people excited about local and state politics.

Photo courtesy of Kimia Mohebi
Mohebi gives a speech about her personal journey at Hats and High Tea for the Ventura County Girl Up Coalition.

“We also try our best to increase the media literacy of the rest of our membership since they are typically are an older demographic and most of them do not use modern social media or email. Thus, it falls on our shoulders to make sure that they have access to the information that they need to be politically literate, in today’s day and age,” Mohebi said.

However, Mohebi’s work does not stop there. As a founding member of the gun control advocacy organization, Never Again SoCal, Mohebi actively encourages elected officials to enact and follow through with common sense gun laws, especially in light of the Borderline Bar & Grill massacre last November.

“On February 3, we held a forum with all the elected officials from our district like Julia Brownley and Henry Stern. We also had Susan Orfanos, the mother of Telemachus Orfanos, who was one of the victims brutally murdered at Borderline, speak for all of us. We gave our elected officials a platform to speak about the gun control that they wanted to implement in response to the impact that this shooting had on our community,” Mohebi said. “Though this may not have done justice to those who lost their lives, it gave our community a chance to come together and for constituents to see their elected officials as we try to battle this together.”

Speaking at the Hats and High Tea event March 17 for International Women’s Day, hosted by the local Ventura County Girl Up Coalition, Mohebi, at 18, was the youngest out of four guest speakers.

She is also a United Nations Delegate on behalf of Iranian Circle of Women’s Intercultural Network.

“I was given the chance to go to the United Nation’s 63rd Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Several countries along with their diplomats were able to go to New York City to discuss women’s issues, specifically catering to this year’s theme of Social Protection and Care Systems that Benefit Women,” Mohebi said. “I also learned a lot about myself as a leader. Sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader and an activist is to listen to people’s nuanced intersectional stories and originations and to see how it shaped them into the person they are today.”

Her interest in politics originated around the 2008 elections. Mohebi said that she first started paying attention at 8 years old, when she would translate CNN to her Iranian grandparents.

“I have always considered myself to be a pretty outspoken person. I never thought that people would care about what I had to say, because I always looked up to people who influenced me and the way that I thought,” Mohebi said. “When the 2016 election came around, though, I realized I could not sit in the sidelines and I think that teachers such as Mrs. Schultheis and Mr. Cook inspired me as they always pushed to advocate for my beliefs and values. Mrs. Fowler and Mr. Cook specifically were very instrumental in instilling a level of faith in me that I knew that I would not have had without their help.”

Oak Park High alumna and friend Michelle Chen said that she knew Mohebi was going to play a big role politically from the beginning.

“I think much of it is performative; capitalizes on just the trending, uncontroversial issues; and done primarily for the sake of an Instagram photo or two. But Kimia’s always been the exception to that rule. Her resumé grows more impressive every time I catch up with her, but she still clings to her core values of equality and democracy,” Chen said. “Even as she’s becoming a leader in her own right — climbing the ladder, so to speak — I trust that she’ll not only leave that ladder there for others, but also, lift them upward so that their voices are amplified, too.”

Another close friend of Mohebi’s, Oak Park High alumna Harper Wayne said that she feels at ease knowing that women like Kimia will be leading politics in the future.

“I know why, how and fully from where Kimia acts on and why she decides to fight this fight and be an activist. She comes from a different world than me, filled with different experiences and knowledge, something I greatly respect, which also gives her another layer to her personality and life,” Wayne wrote to The Talon. “I respect her acts as well as knowing that her built up résumé did not occur overnight. Kimia has worked for every opportunity that has come her way.”

This story was originally published on The Oak Park Talon on March 29, 2019.