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December 1, 2009

Connecticut Iranian American A Symbol for Civic Participation

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Ridgefield, CT – Although Nina Mohadjer’s bid for a seat on the Connecticut Board of Education was 110 votes short, she has since turned her full attention to another cause, one that she has been involved in for over two years. The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Relay for Life, an event that takes place nationwide, is meant to raise awareness about cancer and money for research.

“Cancer doesn’t care about gender, politics, religion, race, nationality, or your age. A 2 year-old in the US can get cancer, and a 90 year-old in Japan can get cancer. It’s an unfair way of ending your life,” she stated recently in an interview with NIAC. Half of her extended relatives have passed away from cancer and many of her friends as well. Just two days before being appointed director of Ridgefield, CT’s Relay for Life, and two weeks after the Nov. 3 elections, a friend of hers died from an orange-size tumor in her brain. The doctor had said it was nothing – simply old-age headaches and hearing loss.

Nina sees her unsuccessful run as “a personal victory. Before, I was generally unknown in the town and area to begin with. Some knew my face but not my name. Others knew me as ‘Nina from Germany.'”

After the campaign, however, Nina was recognized all throughout her home town of Ridgefield and beyond. Republicans and Democrats alike approached her to offer their congratulations at being the first Iranian American to run for public office in Connecticut, and expressed their hope that she run for office again. While she greatly enjoyed campaigning – specifically “meeting people, hearing their stories, listening to their needs” – she is fully focused on Relay for Life.

“I have the energy and passion so I must do something. I have the name recognition. I want to get every resident of Ridgefield involved in the process.” Along this line Nina also spoke of her passion for mobilizing the Iranian-American community to get more involved in American civic life, which is also NIAC’s mission.

“Although I did not grow nor have never lived in Iran [she was raised in Germany], I have always made sure people know my name is Iranian. I would support any Iranian American who runs for office without turning their backs on their heritage and losing touch with the community. We must go out there and say we are proud of our Middle Eastern background.”

Nina speaks of relinquishing the unproductive mentality that plagues our community. If a member of our community is on the rise, it is important that we fully support them, not hamper their efforts at getting involved and working to strengthen our American society out of spite and jealousy.

When asked whether or not she’d consider another run for public office, she states that many have urged her to do so. “I will consider running for office in two years but right now, I am focused on the Relay. Certainly my eldest daughter isn’t as interested in the political stuff and both daughters are a lot more involved and excited about the Relay. I think that says a lot.”

Besides her work for Relay for Life, Nina works full time at Eckert & Seamans. She speaks Persian, German, English, French and Italian, and is currently working on Arabic. She is the mother of two, Shirin, 15, and Simin, 13. They live in Ridgefield, CT.

The Relay for Life event will take place on June 10-11, 2010 at Ridgefield High School. The ACS’s Relays for Life are 24 hour walk-and-runs around a track featuring cancer survivors, care-givers, and regular citizens – friends, family, and strangers – who come to show their support.

If you are in the Tri-State area and would like to join Nina and her community in next June’s Relay, or if would like to donate to Relay for Life of Ridgefield, please click here.

 

 

 

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