December 3, 2009

Iranian American to Start White House Internship


ImageWashington, DC – Combiz Abdolrahimi always knew he wanted to work in government and policy. While other Iranian-American children were grooming themselves to pursue careers in law, medicine, architecture and engineering, Combiz was debating politics with grown adults. “I knew I wanted me to be politically involved. Wherever I was, I was always passionate about politics and government,” he stated in an interview with NIAC yesterday.

His goal of being an American ambassador to a Middle Eastern nation has never changed, and at the end of the month he will be one step closer to seeing it realized as he takes his place as a White House Intern in the Office of Political Affairs.

Born in Fort Worth, TX, Combiz and his family moved early on to Redlands, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles, where they remained until migrating further south to Carlsbad, CA a few years ago. The importance of family is crucial to him, and it reverberates even on his Twitter feed, where he recently quoted an African proverb that states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you have to go with someone.” He describes how he stumbled upon the quote and took to it immediately. “If you want to succeed, having a support base who can support you through the journey will keep you motivated along the way.”

Combiz sees the Iranian-American community as being a strong foundation for support, but also his parents. He states with pride that his father has been his greatest inspiration. “He’s always been there for me and pushed me to work hard and to excel in school,” he said. “I admire him the most of anyone past or present.”

The motivation and drive that was embedded in Combiz’s mentality from a young age resonates in his impressive resume and credentials. A 2008 graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Combiz was intimately involved in the Iranian student associations at the school. He served as the Education Board Member for the Iranian Student Group, a nonpartisan cultural group which boasts hundreds if not thousands of members, for all four years. He was also director of the Iranian American Council, an organization with roughly 75 members whose mission it was to promote civic engagement within the community by registering voters and producing events featuring prominent Iranian-American speakers.

A double major in political science and economics at UCLA, Combiz also graduated with an Arabic and Islamic Studies minor, which he attributes to the courses he took during his semester abroad at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. His love for international relations is evident not only in the fact that he designed and conducted his own course on US-Iran relations at UCLA, but his service as a student intern program specialist for four years with the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions “We were responsible for reaching-out to a myriad of different ethnic communities – Lebanese American, Italian American, etc. – and representing [the] State [Department] at their events. We focused on engaging people, programming, memo-writing, and working with diplomatic missions in the Western states.”

According to Combiz, The Office of Political Affairs is responsible for “assessing the needs of the President and Administration, whether policy or political needs (but mostly the latter), and remain in close contact with citizens nationwide.” Connecting with citizens of diverse backgrounds will be crucial for him to succeed, but he is confident he can overcome the challenges. “I have passion and perseverance; qualities that are built outside the classroom and help one succeed in any office he/she works. I am fortunate to be given this opportunity, and I am very much looking forward to the experience.”

Combiz currently lives in Carlsbad, CA, but is moving to Washington, DC shortly. He speaks Turkish, Azeri, Persian, English, Classical and Lebanese Arabic fluently.

NIAC congratulates Combiz on his accomplishments and look forward to seeing more Iranian Americans become active in American civic life.  

For more information on White House Internships, visit www.whitehouse.gov




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