Hyderabad/Virginia: Ghazala Hashmi, an Indian-American with roots in Hyderabad, who has upset Republican incumbent Glen Sturtevant to win the race for Virginia’s 10th Senate District, has created history by becoming the first Muslim-American woman to serve in the Virginia State Senate. Hashmi’s victory over Sturtevant was a significant win for Democrats who will now hold the majority in both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate for the first time in nearly 25 years.
Ghazala is deeply attached to Hyderabad and her relatives residing in the city. According to her father Dr Zia Hashmi, she misses her childhood days and the relatives residing here. She has visited the city at least four times since she migrated to the US with her family. In a family together hosted by her uncle in Hyderabad, in 2015, she became emotional and was overwhelmed following meetings with so many relatives.
“I love Hyderabad. I wish to visit this place as often as I can but my duties do not allow me to do that,” she said during her last visit.
According to her relatives in Hyderabad, she had shown the signs of a bright child even when she was a little girl.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton congratulated Ghazala by tweeting: “I also want to shout out @Hashmi4Va, the first Muslim woman elected to the VA State Senate. As she said yesterday, her victory “belongs to all of you who believed that we needed to make progressive change here in Virginia, for all of you who felt that you haven’t had a voice.”
Replying to her tweet Ghazala Hashmi wrote: “I am deeply honored by your words, Secretary Clinton. You broke so many glass ceilings for women in public service.”
Ghazala’s first interview after her victory
Ghazala was born in Hyderabad in 1964 and spent her childhood days at her maternal grandparents’ house in Malakpet. Popularly known as Raja Sahib, her grandfather Mohiuddin was a lovable personality. He had done BA from Aligarh and was the Assistant Secretary in the Finance Department of the then Andhra Pradesh government. Ghazala’s paternal grandfather Mohammed Rauf had obtained a degree in law. Ghazala moved to U.S. with her family in 1969.
Hashmi graduated from Georgia Southern University in Honours programme and earned her PhD from Emory University in Atlanta which is called the Harvard of the South. She got full scholarship for her studies. After completing her studies she began teaching in colleges. She spent the last 25 years as an educator.
Before winning her election, she served as the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Reynolds Community College in Richmond. She had moved to Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Azhar Rafiq in 1991.
Ghazala’s father Prof Zia Hashmi is the alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University from where he did MA and LLB. He was also the president of AMU’s Student Union in 1954. After moving to US he pursued PhD in International Relations from University of South Carolina. He retired as the Director of Centre for International Studies. He was also the founder of that Centre.
Ghazala’s mother Tanveer Hashmi is BA and B.Ed. She studied from Osmania University’s Women’s College in Kothi. Recalling Ghazala’s childhood days, her mother told siasat.com that she was a studious child right from her school days. In fact all her three children were outstanding students and all of them were valedictorians, she said.
Ghazala has two daughters, Yasmin and Noor. Her elder daughter Yasmin has done Masters in Public Health Administration and is working in Washington. Her other daughter, Noor is studying in the second year of Engineering.
Ghazala’s husband, Dr Azhar Rafiq, is Associate Professor in School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, since 2008. He is also the Director, Medical Informatics; Office Of The Chief Health And Medical Officer (Ochmo) At Nasa Headquarters.
Ghazala’s elder brother Dr Sohail Hashmi has earned PhD from Harvard University in International Relations. He is a Professor in Massachusetts, while her younger sister Dr. Saira Alikhan, MD is a Doctor practicing in Viera Hospital, Florida. She has also served as the Director in the hospital.
Following the breaking news about Ghazala Hashmi by siasat.com, several newspapers like the Hindu, Times of India, Deccan chronicle, India today etc., have extensively covered her victory in their columns.
Apart from Ghazala, three other Indian Americans have won state and local elections held in the United States on Tuesday. Subramanyam entered the Virginia State House of Representatives from the Indian-American-dominated district of Loudon and Prince William. In California, Indian-American Mano Raju won his election to remain San Francisco’s Public Defender. And in North Carolina, incumbent Dimple Ajmera won a convincing re-election to Charlotte City Council.