Friday, April 23, 2021

The Meeting

April 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Health

The Meeting

Here’s what happened when a soon-to-be doctor learned that Vice President Kamala Harris was stopping in Las Vegas and wanted to chat.

BY PAUL HARASIM

UNLV Medical School students Lauren and Damien

Lauren Hollified, set to graduate from the UNLV School of Medicine in May, learned on a Friday that on the following Monday she would be talking to Kamala Harris — the vice president of the United States.

“I certainly could not hide the smile I had from ear to ear throughout the weekend,” Hollifield said after the meeting. “It was so difficult to contain my excitement. I was told not to tell anyone for security reasons. I was counting the hours until Monday when I would meet and speak with Vice President Harris.”

Harris was in Las Vegas on March 15, the first in a series of stops throughout the country to tout the benefits of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. One place she visited was the UNLV Medicine vaccination site at the UNLV Student Union, where Las Vegans come to receive a vaccine to protect them from COVID-19, the coronavirus that’s taken the lives of nearly 600,000 Americans and sickened 30 million others.

Vice President Harris visits UNLV School of Medicine

Hollifield, who’d already vaccinated hundreds of people as part of the medical school’s community service program, was one of the healthcare providers Harris would talk to. They spoke only briefly but Hollifield says it’s something she’ll never forget. “She was so warm.”

Dr. Michael Gardner, CEO of UNLV Medicine, introduced the VP to Hollifield.

“This is Ms. Lauren Hollifield and in 50 days she will be Dr. Lauren Hollifield.”

“Aw, congratulations,” Harris said..

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to COVID vaccine recipient

Gardner then told the vice president that both Hollifield and her husband, Damien Medrano, also a UNLV medical student, hoped to do their postgraduate residency medical training at the University of California San Francisco.

“Oh, is that right?” Harris said.

“Have you heard of it before?” Hollifield said, jokingly.

“Yes, of course. I’ve done a lot of work at UCSF over the years,” said Harris, a former San Francisco District Attorney.

“Well, that’s where we would like to end up for residency,” Hollifield replied.

“Oh, that’s wonderful and where did you grow up?” Harris said.

“I grew up in Washington D.C. and here in Las Vegas.”

Hollifield told the VP that she wants to be an anesthesiologist and her husband, a radiologist. “Wow, that’s heavy stuff,” Harris said.

Hollifield told Harris, accompanied by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, that after their residencies, she and her husband want to practice in Las Vegas.“Awesome,” Harris said, as a pleased Sisolak nodded and smiled.

As Hollifield vaccinated nursing student Mailani Thompson with the Moderna vaccine, Harris noted, “That’s the one I had.”

“Oh, that’s the one I had, too. We are all twins,” laughed Hollifield.

Days after meeting Harris, Hollifield was still excited about meeting her. She pointed out that she, like Harris, the first African American and Asian American woman to become vice president of the U.S., is also a “first.” Of the 7 African Americans graduating in the 60-member Charter Class, Hollifield is the only woman.

“To be able to speak with her,” Hollifield said, “was moving and profound.”

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