Born in Jordan to Palestinian parents who were forced to flee their country, Ayah Ziyadeh says being an activist is in her blood. Fueled by her passion for making a difference in the world, she began participating in protests at the young age of 15 and now, at 23, she’s even more vocal about the changes that need to be made. Ayah is currently IGNITE’s Denver Fellow and has already started a career in politics, currently as a Legislative Aide to Representative Mike Weissman at the Colorado General Assembly. Despite her passion for change, she wasn’t always sure if politics was the path for her.
“I thought I didn’t belong in politics because I never saw someone like myself in the political realm,” Ayah shares. In fact, she started out as a Biology major before deciding to pursue a bachelor’s in International Relations and Political Science. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Human Rights.
In 2018, Ayah completed a Fellowship through Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO), and that is where she came across IGNITE for the first time. She applied for the IGNITE Fellowship immediately, knowing that it was a chance to not only develop her own skills but also to help other young women get the resources that are necessary for a career in politics and advocacy. “Women should get earlier exposure to opportunities and resources. I felt lost navigating college alone, I don’t want it to be that way for other young women,” says Ayah.
As an IGNITE Fellow for two years, Ayah has led College Councils on voter registration, held Boards and Commissions on legislative advocacy and even hosted Young Women Run Denver, IGNITE’s annual conference. But for her, the best part of being a Fellow is the connection she has with the young women she meets. “As women, we can be hard on ourselves and we don’t see how much we can contribute to the world. Helping these young women and seeing them flourish made me so happy.”
To Ayah, the Fellowship is a learning experience. “Through this Fellowship, you get to help other young women see their potential and help them grow while growing and seeing the potential in yourself.” She shares that being a Fellow has helped her become more confident, become a stronger leader and taught her how to mobilize people, and encourages others to make the leap. “Applying to be a Fellow will open so many doors for you.”
Interested in becoming a Fellow? Apply here.