Power Globalist Varisha Khan: Rising journalist, political leader making a national impact

(Photo courtesy Varisha Khan)
(Photo courtesy Varisha Khan)

Before joining the Globalist, Varisha Khan, a journalism student at the University of Washington (UW), had left an internship at another publication. The reason?

She was told she couldn’t report on stories about her American Muslim community because her own identity as an American Muslim made her “too biased.” During her junior year at the UW, Varisha applied for a reporting internship at The Seattle Globalist.

“In the interview for the position, [Editor Alex Stonehill] asked me what communities or beats I’d like to cover, and holding my breath, I said American Muslims and immigrant communities, worried I’d be told I am ‘too biased’ for that beat again,” she remembered. “To my relief, Alex said, ‘Great, can you cover that?’ That’s when I knew I had to be a part of the Globalist team.”

Through The Seattle Globalist, Varisha had found, for the first time, the opportunity to write stories about her community at a publication that is open to underrepresented voices speaking for themselves.

Additionally, “I had the opportunity to write about my community and bring a layer of depth to reporting that’s often missed, when I had been previously dissuaded from doing so,” she says.

At the Globalist, Varisha covered everything from a rally protesting Sharia law at a Kitsap County mosque, to the international cry for justice following the death of 16-year-old Hamza Warsame at Seattle Central College. She also had the opportunity to cover complex and timely issues outside of her community, including generation gaps and gang violence among Seattle’s East African families.

The Globalist is where my journalistic career started. It’s where I found out I can have an impact as a writer, and [as] someone with a voice that’s often suppressed because I lack certain privileges that typically defines a voice of authority,” Varisha says. “It’s important to have a publication that values diversity in voice, since journalism is still a predominantly white person’s field, so those voices of color can be elevated and continue to be heard.”

Since her internship at the Globalist last fall, Varisha has risen to national recognition as a political leader and media pundit.

“I was recently a National Delegate to the Democratic National Convention and am currently an Elector (as in, of the Electoral College) for Washington’s 1st Congressional District, both of which have been my greatest accomplishments so far,” she says. “I never thought I’d be elected to be a state official so early in my career, let alone twice.”

Varisha is one of the founders of UW Associated Students’ Middle Eastern Student Commission, and this summer, was also named one of MPower Change’s 100 Muslim social justice leaders making a major impact in the U.S.

As a senior at UW double-majoring in journalism and political science, Varisha hopes to one day pursue public interest law.

For now, though, the 21-year-old is focused on the impact she can make as a young leader working in the intersection of journalism and politics.

“Since the election, I’ve been seeing the impact politics has on people, and I plan to share those stories and experiences through reporting and narrative writing,” she says.

The Seattle Globalist elevates diverse voices through media. We’re building a pipeline of diverse journalists like Varisha through media trainings, a paid apprenticeship program, and intensive editorial mentoring. You can help break down barriers that have historically kept immigrants, women, and people of color out of journalism.

Become a sustaining member today at the $25 level, and take back your media!