Kottayam: A student hailing from Kerala was congratulated by US Vice-President Kamala Harris for her speech at the United Nations on child rights. Amilyn Rose Thomas, a student of Mount St Joseph Academy High School, Pennsylvania, met Harris during the latter’s visit to Philadelphia.
Onmanorama was the first to report on Amilyn's opening remarks at the UN committee on the Rights of the Child representing United States and her Kerala connection in September 2021.
It had been Amilyn's long pending dream to meet Kamala Harris. “The day that I met Kamala Harris was a perfect, sunny Tuesday, it seemed as if God gave me beautiful weather on one of the most important days of my life,” Amilyn said.
She was all excited to talk about her conversation with the US vice-president. “I started by relaying my UN news to her and explaining my position on the Day of General Discussion. She was in awe at my accomplishment and told me she could not believe it. She then asked me about my college plans and was very impressed when I had told her about my acceptance to the University of Pennsylvania and my plan to study neuroscience. She seemed even more thrilled when I told her that I wanted to follow on a path to becoming a paediatric doctor,” said 17-year-old Amilyn.
Harris even gave a “homework assignment” to Amilyn and told her to read a book titled 'The Deepest Well'. “She told me that it is a wonderful and vital read for those entering paediatric healthcare since the book delves deep into the healing of childhood trauma and adversity,” Amilyn said.
When Amilyn mentioned about her Indian origins, the US vice-president joked, “Well of course you are south Indian, you look like one half of my family”.
Amilyn is the daughter of Jose Thomas, a Mathematics teacher at Spring Ford Area School, and Merline Augustine. Jose belongs to Avimoottil in Pala, while Merline is from Kunnakkattu in Moolamattom.
Earlier, Amilyn was honoured by Tom Wolf, the Governor of Pennsylvania, at the Capitol Governor’s Office in Harrisburg. The youngster was congratulated also by US President Joe Biden.
The members of the children and youth advisory teams at the UN Day of General Discussion all had diverse experiences with alternative care, including foster care, institutional care, and extended family care.
Amilyn spoke from the perspective of a sister who cares for her special needs brother. “Since his birth, my mother, father, and I have joined together in strong willingness to care, nurture, and advocate for him,” she said.
“Since, I live in America I think we are very privileged as we have good health insurance and amazing programs for special needs kids. But in other parts of the world, and in poor income places of even America, people with special needs don't have access to quality care,” noted the teen advocate.
It is her dream “to show that high-quality care should be accessible to everyone — no matter how much money you make, no matter where you live.”