Fordham students welcomed Vice President Kamala Harris to New York City when she arrived at LaGuardia Airport on Air Force Two on April 14.

The vice president was in town to attend the National Action Network’s 2023 Convention. Two days prior to her arrival, her office reached out to Fordham to invite students to meet her.

Claudia Dabie pses for a selfie with Kamala Harris behind her.
Photo courtesy of Claudia Dabie

Claudia Dabie, a Fordham College at Rose Hill student and a member of Fordham’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) program, said the moment when Air Force Two landed was “so majestic.” Then the vice president approached the Fordham group.

“She started walking towards us, and she started saying hi. And she was smiling and she’s so nice,” said Dabie. “It was amazing. I loved it.”

Lesley A. Massiah-Arthur, associate vice president and special assistant to the president for government relations at Fordham, said that when the invitation was extended, she jumped at the chance to recruit as many Fordham students as possible.

By reaching out to CSTEP, as well as Fordham’s Higher Education Opportunity Program, the Center for Community Engaged Learning, the Office of Student Involvement, and several members of the Fordham faculty, she was able to send a list of interested students and arrange for transportation from both campuses with the generous support of the office of Fordham President Tania Tetlow.

Massiah-Arthur submitted the names of 135 students and around 70 received invitations from The White House. She said that officials in Harris’ office were so impressed with Fordham’s quick and enthusiastic response, they will be inviting the students who did not receive an invitation to this event to a future event when the vice president returns to New York City.

The invitation is a testament to the University’s standing, she said.

“I still remember to this day the first opportunities that I had to engage with elected officials, and I think it’s important that students get those opportunities,” she said.

“So when this opportunity came up, I didn’t think that it was something we could pass up. Regardless of your political affiliations or your beliefs, there should still be a fundamental belief that engaging in a political dynamic and engaging in democracy is the best way of affirming change. By participating in this opportunity, we’ve taken one more step in doing that.”

—Video by Hector Martinez


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.