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USG Presidential Candidate Hamza Khilji Is Not Going Down Without a Fight

After being friends for over seven years, Zain Qureshi (left) and Hamza Khilji (right) are running as USG vice president and president. PHOTO/ Samüel Honore

By Zainab Iqbal

Published: April 18th, 2019

Hamza Khilji is a mama’s boy. He’s the middle child and he’s a feminist. He’s sensitive at times and opens up to women more than he does to men. He’s a hopeless romantic. He’s watched all of the Real Housewives. He has a serious face and tries to smile purposefully at times, but can’t help it. He’s obsessed with Bollywood. His brother tells him he’s a real-life meme. Oh, and he’s running for USG president.

Khilji is 20 years old and was born in Pakistan. Like many Pakistanis, his father came to the U.S first. Then, Khilji, his older brother, and his mother followed suit. They arrived in Brooklyn a year after 9/11. When he was in the fifth grade, his family decided to go to Canada to visit his father’s cousin. Unfortunately for them, immigration did not let them back into the country. So, he spent two years in Canada and is now a Canadian citizen. When they got back to America, his family moved to Long Island, his little sister was born, and he was now the middle child.

“I suffer heavily from the middle child effect,” Khilji said. “I’m here [in Brooklyn] four days a week. Even in the times I am gone from home, I get blamed for things. Like I wasn’t even there for anything, yet I still get blamed. My brother gets away with so much.”

Khilji is a junior majoring in Business Administration. He is a Macaulay Honors and B.A.M.D student. He wants to something with business in the future. Perhaps, open his own business. He might want to also do hospital administration. He might want to get his MBA. Oh, and obtain a real estate license. And of course, he wants to become a doctor. At the end of his list, he realized he said too many things. He smiled, shrugged, and said, “But, I can’t control it.”

When Khilji was in high school, he had gone through several surgeries. He then realized it was a pretty cool field and thought of pursuing that in the future. But now, he said he’s still thinking about it. He’s a hopeless romantic.

“I really like surgery… but I also really want a family and I don’t think those two can go hand in hand,” he said. “I think maybe down the line, I will be willing to compromise and shift into a less intensive field in medicine so that I can raise babies.”

In fact, when asked where he sees himself in five years, he said he sees himself being engaged. Though, he smiled and said his father “does not know I’m like this.”

“I care about my career and stuff, but at the end of the day family is more important to me,” he said. “I want to be engaged to someone in medical school because medical school is already hard enough as it is, and I want emotional stability.”

Khilji has ran for student government four times. He ran every single year in high school and lost every single time. Each year, his recorded speeches would get crazier and crazier, to the point where he was using sock puppets—something that still haunts Khilji to this day. But, if he lost all those times, what makes him think he’d win now?

“Nothing. I do remember when I was elected for Senate Assembly, I was so happy I called my dad and I was like ‘Dad, I finally won something,’” he said. “I’m nervous because there’s no telling where everything will go. But, my rule is even if I go down, I’m not going to go down without a fight.”

He decided to run for president last year. When he was in Assembly, he quit because he didn’t feel good about the company he was around. So, he promised himself he’d run his senior year.

“I think change has to be from the top down and not the bottom up,” he said. “That’s been the issue. We were at the bottom and we tried challenging the top, but there’s too much bureaucracy.”

For those that say he’s only running to spice up his résumé for medical school, Khilji says that makes no sense.

“I tremendously care. The blessing of being in B.A.M.D is I don’t have to do anything a traditional pre-med has to do for their résumé,” he said. “Only contingent upon GPA and MCAT, I already have a seat at SUNY Downstate.”

When Khilji is not on campus, he’s most likely working out. It started freshman year when he went to the gym with Qureshi and ended up losing 30 pounds. Fast forward three years and he has a fitness page on Instagram. When he’s not working out, he’s watching reality TV. He’s obsessed with the Real Housewives, though he said the Kardashians are his reality TV limit—he doesn’t watch them. He also watches the news. And he’s exhausted all of the Bollywood movies on Netflix.

Khilji thinks his best quality is genuinely caring about everything he goes after. His weakness? Finding it hard to see the bad in people, giving them the benefit of the doubt, and hurting himself in the process. He wants to work on the latter because he thinks doing so would make him a better president.

“I really want to become president. After the debate, it became clear to me what the visions are,” he said. “And as much as it is about me running, something needs to happen for the students.”

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