University of Illinois student skips senior Homecoming to meet with VP Harris

Many college students may dream of being in the White House one day, but a University of Illinois student can already check that off the to-do list.

This University of Illinois senior missed being on the Homecoming court this past weekend, skipping that celebration of orange and blue to head to the White House.

"Yes, I did have to miss my senior Homecoming. I was a little bit bummed out, but it was totally worth it," said 21-year-old Mariama Mwilambwe.

Mwilambwe, of Bloomington, Illinois, was selected to visit to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris. She was one of 75 student leaders there and the only from Illinois to discuss reproductive rights.

"We've all seen Dobbs v. Jackson decision and discussion around reproductive rights be utilized in different political scenarios. And so, I think we're all increasingly concerned about the polarizing effect that it is having on our campus and then in the broader United States," Mwilambwe said.


Mwilambwe says organizers let them know the VP wasn't looking for ‘yes’ men and women. She wanted to be challenged.

"I think that students really took that to heart, and you could feel it, you could feel some of that tension in the room whenever we were discussing ways that the Biden-Harris administration could improve their responses and I think it was a very candid conversation," said Mwilambwe.

This meant missing Homecoming, even though Mwilambwe was on the Homecoming court, but she's grateful for the chance to represent the school in DC.

"It's an excellent university, and I'm very proud to be a U of I student," she said.

Her father is the mayor of Bloomington. When asked if she might be in politics one day, Mwilambwe said she's keeping her options open.