Manahil Khan continually attempts to be politically active


Joining the engineering workforce is something that sophomore Manahil Khan has been working towards for her whole life. With parental approval, taking the right classes, and continuing on in her second year of robotics, it seemed like a no-brainer to continue to pursue the pathway.

But as time went on and clubs such as Global Learners Initiative (GLI), Model United Nations (UN), and Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) became more interesting to Manahil, she soon found herself not only a part of these clubs, but also with a passion for politics that wouldn’t fade.

While engineering is still on Manahil’s mind, politics is something that continues to beckon her.

“So, I wanted to be in engineering, obviously,” Manahil said. “I thought it was always interesting, and my parents encouraged me to be an engineer. But I also was thinking of perhaps joining some sort of political field, which is really not something that my family has ever considered for me; I’ve never thought about [it]. It can be difficult, but I’m so dedicated to it, and I just love talking about politics and solving issues. Maybe it steered me in a path where if engineering isn’t something I decided that I want to do, [I’ll] keep going the direction of politics.”

Manahil’s love for politics is very evident and noticeable in the way she talks about it. She holds nothing back when discussing issues that upset her, and she is not ashamed to speak her mind. The fact that so much is going on in America that she cannot control is one of the things that drove her to pursue politics in the first place.

She desires to be involved in these topics because, in her eyes, making these issues known and educating others about them is the way to prevent them from continuing.

“A lot of times, there’s a lot of frustrations we have with the way that things are run,” Manahil said. “But we always complain about it, and we never want to suggest any ideas to solve it because sometimes we don’t have any.”

With this in mind, Manahil feels that sometimes teens are misguided in their information, causing them to speak on matters they do not entirely understand. To help combat these issues, Manahil talks about how getting involved with clubs is one of the best ways to keep arrogance from spreading.

“Anyone can ‘talk politics’ because there’s always political things just within the school,” Manahil said, “[along with] things about our culture and environment that we can complain about. But if you join clubs and you learn how to talk about it respectfully and find common ground instead of just arguing with each other, you’re a problem-solver. It’s nice to reach a common goal and find common ground with people. It’s always fun to solve problems.”

Manahil also believes that these clubs are resources to help people see the true diversity of the school and the people inside of it, yet the people who need to see these things are not the people attending.

She also believes that this is the main reason teens remain uneducated and continue to make uneducated remarks.

“[The school does] provide resources, but they’re optional, so the kids who go to them don’t need them,” Manahil said. “The workshops [the school provides] are super educational, and I think they can teach people a lot of great things in high school–especially about unity and teamwork.”

Joining these clubs have also influenced her personal life, personal discussions, and personal beliefs. However, with the use of these clubs, Manahil has been able to educate herself on the fact that simply because she or another person has a belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean one or another is right. Simply that they are different. This is one thing that Manahil would like other people to be able to recognize as well.

While she may be in political clubs talking about world issues, she also is able to apply these problem-solving tactics at home and with her friends.

“There’s definitely things that I argue about with my friends, and instead of just getting in a big fight with them about it, I find a way to solve our problems and see it from their perspective,” Manahil said. “Right now in my life, I think that the political atmosphere affects me as a person and my family just because of my background. I think that it’s helped me learn how to deal with those issues when they arise in a more calm fashion rather than just being upset about it. You can make educated remarks.”

While educating herself on issues she doesn’t entirely understand seems natural to Manahil, it may not seem so apparent to others. Growing up, Manahil came in contact with violence and run-ins at the grocery store while shopping with her mother that left her feeling more than uncomfortable.

Because of such early exposure to these circumstances, especially in her former neighborhoods such as Gainesville, Florida, Manahil became involved with politics at a much earlier age. She remembers being concerned with them around the age of six, and later on when Barack Obama became president.

Anyone can ‘talk politics’…”

— Manahil

“I saw a lot of like the violence, but I didn’t understand what it was,” Manahil said. “Then Obama was president, and I snapped into politics. Nobody care[s] about presidents when [they are] younger. That’s when I kind of started to notice like racism. After 9/11 and all of the things that happened in America, it definitely was a hostile environment in [Gainesville] for my family.”

While Manahil may come from a background where she was forced to learn about politics early on, it doesn’t mean that she thinks other people have an exception. She believes that everyone should only make remarks on things that they are educated on because misinformation is often the thing that leads to conflict.

Even though high school is an age where a person could finally begin to grasp politics and their true effect, Manahil believes this is already too late. Early education is the best education in her mind.

“It’s definitely important that even if you don’t get involved when you’re young like I did–so I never said things that were inappropriate–you should try [to] when you’re in high school,” Manahil said. “Even though it’s hard to. You’re not malleable anymore, and it’s hard to shape your views differently to try to be open-minded.”