And as a friend, the senator and former presidential candidate kept a promise she made four years ago to Aleathea Williams, attending her high school graduation of the Pelham Preparatory Academy at Fordham University on Sunday, June 22.
Aleathea transferred to Pelham Prep, located at the Columbus High School, having previously attended the Bronx School of Letters, at 339 Morris Avenue, just this year, creating a whirlwind at the six year old school.
“We were just so excited,” said principal Jane Aronoff of the students and staff upon learning about Aleathea’s relationship with the senator and the graduation commitment.
The promise was made at a special luncheon at Truman High School when Aleathea graduated from M.S. 180 in Baychester four years ago. Since Clinton couldn’t attend her official graduation, she promised to come her high school ceremony.
The family has maintained a personal relationship over the years with the senator and her staff after a meeting on President Bill Clinton’s campaign trail in 1992.
The student’s mother, Patricia Williams, a longtime Democratic party volunteer, mentioned a time a number of years ago when she had a bad bout of bronchitis and Althea called up the senator’s office to let them know.
She received a reply immediately in the form of a gift. “I received a bouquet of a dozen white roses,” Patricia said.
Clinton has consistently taken an interest in Patricia’s daughter over the years.
“She calls and ask “how’s school, do you need anything,” the proud mother said. “She’s always kept in touch.”
For Aleathea, Clinton is more an honorary aunt than a celebrity or public figure.
“She’s invited me to these exclusive things, like a brunch in the Hamptons where I met Alec Baldwin and Russell Simmons, but has also talked to me about difficulties I’ve had,” noted the young student.
In her introduction of the international celebrity on Sunday, Aleathea said, “During her historic campaign to become the nominee of the Democratic party, she taught us all that no glass ceiling is high enough to limit the will of a person who is committed to living up to their true potential.”
Upon taking the stage, Clinton noted how four years can make a big difference in one’s life. “No one four years ago when I attended Aleathea’s graduation lunch could have predicted that an African American and a woman would be competing for the presidency of the United States,” Clinton said.
New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein was also on hand at the graduation and spoke of Clinton’s impact on young women like Aleathea.
“She changed America’s view of women,” Klein said. “Someday soon, very soon in America, we will have a woman as president. And you know what that woman will say? ‘I would not be here had it not been for Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
As for Aleathea, the young graduate will attend SUNY Plattsburg in the fall and intends to major in journalism, hoping to report more truthfully than some of the coverage she has seen of her mentor on the campaign trail.
“I want to be one of those people who put the truth out there,” she said. “I’m glad this story about us came out because it shows more of who she is.”