Posted by Joan Hanna on September 27, 2016 in Blog
For Fahim Abedrabbo, the importance of family and education are inseparably intertwined. This Arab American is so connected to both that it has inspired him to run for the Clifton Board of Education this year. Abedrabbo, who is of Palestinian descent, was born and raised in New Jersey. His parents left the town of Al Jib, just south of Ramallah, to create a better life for their growing family in America. Although Abedrabbo’s parents did not complete high school, they held education in the highest regard: “My parents always wanted to receive more education, but my father was supporting three kids and working two jobs, while my mother took care of us. They always wanted to give us more, and one way to do that was to instill the importance of education.”
Abedrabbo obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Law from Montclair State University. After graduating early, Abedrabbo worked as an intern in Representative Bill Pascrell’s (D, NJ-9) office for six months and then was offered a job in the district office as a Field Representative. “I really enjoyed my time in the New Jersey office. Being involved with the ground game made me realize that local politics are very important. The experience solidified everything I wanted to accomplish professionally.” As a Field Representative, Abedrabbo was the Congressman’s face when he was in Washington. During the many events he attended, Abedrabbo was proud to advocate for the municipalities, working on public safety, making an impact on the district’s youth and participating in the nominations for the military academies. During the same time, Abedrabbo completed his Masters in Public Administration from Seton Hall University. After six years of Congressional work, he was asked to teach at Montclair State University and then became the Director of Government Relations at Seton Hall University.
Abedrabbo’s heritage and growing up in Clifton contributed to who he has become and has led him down the professional path he was compelled to pursue. “As Arab Americans, and as a Palestinian American in particular, we’re prideful people. We put our minds to something and we do it. I don’t hesitate to do it. I also appreciate that my community and my family raised me to have a voice and speak out.” Abedrabbo’s father often took Fahim to meetings ranging from local community concerns to civic engagement events and to gatherings where Palestinian issues were discussed. Abedrabbo learned from a young age that being involved in the community gave him a great sense of belonging.
Abedrabbo’s parents were very influential in the success of their children’s lives – and it paid off. “My sister is a pharmacist and my brother recently gradated from Pace University. Currently, I’m a Ph.D. candidate in Education Leadership, Management and Policy at Seton Hall University. I’m not only working towards my life-long goal of a Ph.D. for myself, and my parents, but also for my daughter, Lubna. I want Lubna to feel like she can do anything. When she’s old enough, I hope she can say that she had even more opportunities than her mother and I and her grandparents had.” Speaking about how his parents gave up so much in order for Abedrabbo and his siblings to better themselves, they always tried to put the family’s situation in perspective. “My parents taught me that education is key to success. It’s not about how much money you make or how much power you have. At the end of the day, many of us take the education we receive for granted. In other countries, folks have a thirst, a hunger, for education, but some people aren’t in positions that allow them to further their education. I want to make sure educational opportunities are afforded to every single student in Clifton, including my daughter. That’s why I’m running.”