A Call to Action
Ryan Khojasteh was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. The son of Iranian immigrants, he was the first in his extended family to be born in the United States of America. His perspective on the issues affecting the American people has been profoundly shaped by his experience as a first-generation American who grew up in a hard-working middle class family.
As a kid, Ryan loved reading books about U.S. presidents and American history. He grew up appreciating how much his parents sacrificed for him to be born in this country, and he carries their faith in the American dream with him to this day. In 2004, when he was 10 years old, he heard then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama refer to himself as “a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.” A Middle Eastern kid going through school in a post-September 11th world, these words deeply impacted Ryan and shaped the trajectory of his life, inspiring him to continue building a more inclusive, diverse, and respectful America.
After working throughout high school to attend Bellarmine College Preparatory, an all-boys Catholic High School in San Jose, Ryan then attended Santa Clara University on a full-tuition scholarship and took out student loans for housing, graduating with a degree in Political Science and a minor in French. While in college, he worked as a caterer, an orientation leader, a cashier in the teacher’s lounge, and as a waiter at a Ramen shop. In his senior honors thesis, he thoroughly analyzed the late Justice Scalia’s constitutional interpretive theory of originalism. He argued, among other things, that under the Justice’s own theory, the right to an abortion is actually granted within the Constitution.
Currently at UC Hastings College of the Law on scholarship and student loans, Ryan is committed to preserving and protecting the laws and values of our country, when they seem to be attacked almost every day. He is a staff editor for the Hastings’ Women’s Law Journal and the Vice-Chair of the Tenderloin Community Outreach Board. Ryan is on track to graduate law school early – he will receive his Juris Doctor degree in December 2018, three weeks before Congressional inauguration day.
Shortly after the election of Donald Trump, Ryan was appointed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to the Immigrant Rights Commission. He currently serves on the Executive Committee and as the Chair of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Task Force. As a board member of the San Francisco Young Democrats, Ryan works alongside an amazing group of young people to encourage the community to get involved in politics.
Ryan has had the privilege of holding internships and fellowships at the District Office of Congressman Mike Honda, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (now the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence), and the Immigration Defense Unit at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.
In addition, Ryan enjoys spending his time involved in volunteer work. He has helped immigrants obtain citizenship status and learn English at Pars Equality Center, where he was awarded student volunteer of the year. He has helped teach kindergarteners English in Costa Rica and served as a Farsi interpreter at SFO International Airport during the initial travel ban. While serving meals with Curry Without Worry, Ryan has had the opportunity to interact and learn from his Tenderloin neighbors. He is also involved with 826 Valencia and the efforts of NARAL Pro-Choice California.
Ryan hopes his candidacy will energize and motivate young people and immigrants across the country to run for office. While many believe that one must be born into a certain life to be elected to Congress, it is time to shatter that myth. Ryan comes from a working-class American family, lives in student housing, and will have $150,000 in student loans by the time he graduates. It is time for those who understand struggle from a people’s perspective to be the representatives of their own communities.
“I hope you join me in running. From the school board to the Senate, we need you. We must fundamentally change our government and restore trust by electing candidates who are of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is time to take back our Congress. Let’s get to work.”
Ryan A. Khojasteh