Kamala Harris' childhood friend tells her kindness 'changed' her life

High school best friend reveals how being taken in by Kamala Harris’ family when she was being abused by her stepfather ‘changed the trajectory her life’

  • Wanda Kagan met Vice President Elect at Westmount High School in Canada 
  • Says Kamala wanted to ‘change the culture’ of the school even as a teenager 
  • Was taken in by Kamala’s mother Shyamala Gopalan to escape abuse at home
  • Told that kindness of Harris family had a ‘huge impact and influence’ on her life

Kamala Harris’ childhood best friend has told how the kindness of the Vice President- elect’s family ‘changed the trajectory of her life’ when they took her in as a teenager. 

Wanda Kagan, an administrative agent from Montreal, met the Harris after they both joined Westmount High School in Quebec and said the pair ‘instantly bonded’. 

Before graduating in 1981, Wanda confided in Kamala that she was facing abuse at the hands of her stepfather, and Kamala’s mother Shyamala Gopalan insisted that she come to live with the family for her final year of high school. 

Appearing on Lorraine today, she told how living with the family had a ‘huge impact and influence’ on her life, and that Kamala has been ‘paving the way’ for change since she was a teenager.  

Kamala Harris’ childhood best friend has told how the kindness of her family ‘changed the trajectory of her life’ when they took her in as a teenager. Pictured, Kamala and Wanda together in the 1980s 

Later today, Joe Biden will officially be sworn in as the President of the United States with Kamala (pictured in January this year)  taking up the role of Vice President 

Speaking of being taken in by the family, Wanda said: ‘That’s a special bond that we will always have, when we catch up talking with each other. 

‘There were troubling times, but it was over shadowed by the very good times. Her mother was a very strong independent woman.  

‘She was a huge influence in her life and in my life. Living with them in that structured, studious environment –  hanging out in her room with her, playing music, going to dance practice, studying together –  had a huge impact and influence of my life and changed the trajectory of my life, that I went on to college and then university.’    

Wanda Kagan (pictured), an administrative agent from Montreal, appeared on Lorraine today to speak about her friendship with Kamala 

She told host Lorraine Kelly (pictured left) they both joined Westmount High School in Quebec and said the pair ‘instantly bonded’

While Kamala was born in California, she and her sister moved with their mother to Montreal, Quebec when she was 12. 

Wanda said that Kamala has always been keen to change ‘the culture’ for women, making a ‘statement’ by inviting girls who had no dates to attend the school prom in a group. 

‘Back then Kamala and I were finding there were girls who were upset they didn’t have a date, they were feeling pressure’, said Wanda. 

‘Back then it wasn’t even acceptable to go alone, but we decided to change the culture and back then she was paving ways. It was like “a group of us will go together”, and that was a strong statement back then, almost 40 years ago.’  

Before graduating in 1981, Wanda confided in Kamala that she was facing abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Pictured, the pair together during high school

Kamala’s mother Shyamala Gopalan insisted that she come to live with the family for her final year of high school. Pictured, the pair together during high school

The pair lost touch after graduating high school, but reconnected after Kagan reached out when Wanda saw a profile of the then San Francisco district attorney in 2005. 

In September, Kamala revealed on Instagram that it was the abuse of her high school friend that has inspired her to fight for women. 

She penned: ‘When I was in high school, I learned my best friend was being molested by her father. Once she told me, I said to her: “Well, you have to come stay with us”. And she did.

‘A big part of the reason I wanted to be a prosecutor was to protect people like her and change the system.’  

In September, Kamala revealed on Instagram that it was the abuse of a high school friend that has inspired her to fight for women. Pictured, Harris speaking at a memorial for victims of the coronavirus yesterday 

Later today, Joe Biden will officially be sworn in as the President of the United States with Kamala becoming the first female Vice President, and Wanda predicted its ‘just the beginning’ for her childhood friend. 

When asked whether she thought Kamala could eventually become president, she said: ‘It could happen, I believe it could happen. 

‘I think this is just the beginning. I was reflecting a lot over the past couple of days on times we were together, her strength her leadership.’ 

She added: ‘Anyone can make history, but it takes a great woman to write history and that’s what she’s doing.’ 

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