Raaheela Ahmed's childhood home is her base camp. It's a battle for Prince George's County school board focused on her birth-date.
"I'm really disappointed that our race has become so much about age because age is not something I can control,” says the 19-year-old.
Ahmed says she focuses on what she can control: Her campaign to throw out District 5 incumbent Verjeana Jacobs. She is a five-time board chairman, and the woman Ahmed beat in the primary.
“it was a great feeling to know that a lot of people had faith in me and that's really what built my confidence,” she says.
Her staff is her family. her parents, uncles, sibling and cousins - even the littlest ones have rallied behind her.
“My dad gives me some advice, my mom gives me other advice. Just taking those different perspectives and making my own judgments on them, it's a teenage life. It's what you do,” she says.
It’s a tumultuous time for the Prince George’s County school board. For several years, the school system has lost hundreds of students. The board is also facing budget woes and must start the school year without a permanent superintendent.
Now a sophomore at the University of Maryland, Ahmed says her experience at Eleanor Roosevelt High School could help her navigate the board’s struggles. Ahmed hopes to bring transparency to a school board that she says is out of touch with the community.
She also intends to bring financial literacy classes to the school system to ready students for life after graduation.
“People don't pursue public service for the money, they do it for something else; and my something else is that I really want the best for our students,” she says.
Verjeana Jacobs could not be reached for comment.
If Ahmed wins, she will be the youngest member of the Prince George's County Board of Education.