BY ASHA MAHADEVAN
BACKGROUND: Rehmat E. Khalid came to New York at the age of 22 from his hometown, Kashmir, with a bachelor’s degree in botany, chemistry and zoology. He went on to study accounting at Baruch College and worked in the field of banking and insurance as a certified public accountant. He lives in East Elmhurst. He likes the neighborhood as it is ethnically diverse. He gets to interact with people from all over the world and eat at restaurants as diverse as Filipino, Thai and Colombian.
OCCUPATION: Khalid, 57, took an early retirement and now runs his own financial practice. He offers bookkeeping and other public accounting services.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: When Khalid first arrived in New York in 1982, other residents helped him out with the language and job search. It motivated him to give back to the community. Khalid is a volunteer at Make the Road New York, an organization that helps working class communities live a dignified life by offering services related to education and policy innovation. The organization offers English classes to adult learners and they are taught using iPads. For many learners, it is hard enough to grasp a new language, but doing so while also learning a new technology is a huge challenge. That’s where Khalid steps in. Once a week, he teaches the lab class in which he takes his students through the basics of using an iPad. He shows them how to connect to the Internet, how to browse it, how to find the lessons on the foundation’s website and how to practice learning the language at home.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: “Becoming a CPA,” Khalid said. “That was my dream. I had a favorite cousin who was a CA [Chartered Accountant, as CPAs are known in Kashmir]. I looked up to him and wanted to copy him.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “It is hard to get financial information from people when you are doing an audit,” Khalid said. “We ask questions that people don’t like.” As far as volunteering is concerned, the challenge lies in keeping students motivated. “Lots of students have jobs, families and other responsibilities. As the semester continues, attendance falls off. I have to keep the class interesting, don’t let them get bored or discouraged, so that they can come and complete their term.”
INSPIRATION: “Nelson Mandela. He spent 28 years in jail, never gave up, never quit. When I get tired or lazy, I remember him and think, ‘He never quit. There is no reason for me to quit.’”
- Star of Queens: John Spagnuolo, president of the Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach
- Star of Queens: Maria Romano, volunteer running coach, New York Road Runners
- Star of Queens: Patty DeCiccio-Franke, volunteer board member, Oratorio Society of Queens