Rabia Osman: “Reflecting on my summer with CLDP”

From planning panels to passing bills in Congress

September 25, 2019

My name is Rabia Osman; I am a graduate from Albany Law School with my Master of Science in Legal Studies in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Law. Prior to that I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science & Information Security with a major concentration in Cybersecurity. In short, I am a tech geek. My dream is to deploy my technical skills and know how to help the law to keep up with the rapidly developing nature of technology. This summer I had the extraordinary opportunity to serve as a Tech Fellow in the DC Office of Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. I would not have received this opportunity if I was not a part of MPAC’s Congressional Leadership and Development Program (CLDP), and for that I am eternally grateful.

As a Tech Fellow, I had the amazing opportunity to serve as the Congresswoman’s eyes and ears on tech. This summer I proposed legislation to Congresswoman Clarke to promote virtual reality as a tool for professional development. The Congresswoman loved the idea, and as a result I drafted H.R. 4103 which was introduced in the House in July.

To promote the bill, I single-handedly reignited the Virtual Reality Caucus in the 116th Congress by hosting a VR event. The event served to educate Hill staffers about the importance of virtual/mixed/augmented reality technology as an important tool for professional development in the workforce. Elizabeth Hyman from XRA graciously accepted my request to moderate the event. My panelists were private and government organizations that have been incorporating virtual reality in their respective fields. My panelists were: Kevin Cornish (Moth+Flame), Salma Kadiri (USAID Morocco), Tyler Gates from Brightline Interactive, Angelica Garcia (NASA), and Peter Herrick Jr. (FEMA). Congresswoman Yvette Clarke also spoke at the event to introduce the bill and share her support for this growing technology. Congressman Ted Lieu, Bill Flores and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (all co-chairs of the VR Caucus) also co-sponsored my bill. Congressman Ted Lieu also came to the event to share his support. Overall, it was a huge success. 

Additionally, this summer I drafted a resolution which will be passed once Congress is back in session. This resolution expresses support of emotional support animals and psychiatric service dogs as an alternative treatment for behavioral and emotional needs. I realized that while there is a Mental Health Caucus, there were no resolutions or bills regarding emotional support animals. As someone who suffers from clinical depression I know the importance of finding the right treatment that works for you.

Emotional support animals perform a critical role in the life of a person who lives with emotional or behavioral health conditions. I have an emotional support animal, her name is Honey and she is a Havenese. Honey is now a famous emotional support animal, as she also made her debut on the Congresswoman’s instagram. The purpose of my resolution was to shed light on the mental health stigma in Muslim communities. Unfortunately, there is an even bigger stigma on the role of dogs in Muslim households. Luckily, MPAC is an organization that is working to promote and strengthen American pluralism by increasing understanding and improving policies that impact American Muslims. They do this by enriching American society to exemplify core Islamic values of mercy, justice, peace, human dignity, freedom, and equality for all. MPAC was very accepting of my emotional support animal as well as my candor regarding my everyday struggle with clinical depression.

Whether it was the tech legislation, my VR event, or my candidness to speak about mental health and emotional support animals as a Muslim woman, if it was not for CLDP and the MPAC team’s belief in me I would not have had these opportunities!



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