Out of all of the things that could have happened to me on a random Tuesday morning, I never would have expected President Iuliano to call me and ask if I wanted to represent Gettysburg College at a conference at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris. I couldn’t even believe it when he asked me.
He connected me with the people running the program, and they were able to send me my formal invitation for the discussion, as well as notify me that the conference would be on the topic of reproductive rights. I happily agreed and he told me that the conference would be taking place the following week, which was Oct. 14, 2022. I immediately canceled my meetings for that day, got my shifts at the admissions office covered, and even rescheduled my LSAT to the following day.
“This is an opportunity that reflects the nature of Gettysburg College students. … If you get involved on campus and put yourself out there, you will be presented with great opportunities.” – Miranda Zamora ’23
The day had arrived.
I threw on my nicest suit, grabbed my bag, and an hour and a half later, I was standing at the gates of the White House. I had never been that close to the White House before that day and it was mind-blowing to be standing just outside of the fence, getting ready to head in. I went through security along with the first group of students and then they took us to the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), which is on the White House campus. Since I was the first student group to arrive, I had a chance to claim a seat at the conference room table. To me, sitting at that table was surreal because I immediately thought to myself, “Some incredibly important decisions have been made at this very table.”
After everyone arrived in the conference room, the White House staff moved us to the press room where we would hear the Vice President speak. We listened to the chief of staff give a short speech, and then the Vice President walked into the room. She introduced herself and spoke about the importance of the discussion we were about to have. She highlighted how she had been having these roundtable discussions with various groups across the country. After this, she called on several pre-picked students, who told their stories of their activism in relation to reproductive rights.
This is an experience that I will truly never forget.
One point that Vice President Harris stressed to all of us was that we are the future of America. Each student that attended that conference was chosen because they have the drive and the determination to make change in their communities. It was inspirational to attend a conference with so many bright and hardworking students from across the country.
I also feel that this is an opportunity that reflects the nature of Gettysburg College students. During my speech at Convocation, I told students that they would achieve the greatest rewards during their college careers if they chose to get involved. While meeting the Vice President of the United States is a bit of an extreme example, it goes to show that if you get involved on campus and put yourself out there, you will be presented with great opportunities that would have otherwise been presented to somebody else. Overall, I was thrilled to be able to represent the school at such an important discussion, and hope that more events like this can be offered to students in years to come.
By Miranda Zamora ’23, Student Senate president, political science major, and Spanish minor
Photos courtesy of The White House and Miranda Zamora ’23