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2020 Election

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is the ultimate role model for me at ‘The Mecca’

Howard University’s Black women have always embodied what I want to become

Editor’s note: ABC News has declared Joe Biden the apparent winner of the presidency, making California Sen. Kamala Harris the first woman and first African American and first South Asian American to be elected vice president.

Howard University’s proximity to the White House has just gotten even closer.

Kamala Harris, a Howard woman, an Alpha woman and a Black woman, is now the vice president-elect of the United States, and sis has the students of Howard shaking in their boots.

It is true when they say that people who graduate from Howard ultimately become world changers, historymakers. I just didn’t know I would see history made so soon.

Going to Howard gives me a sense of pride, knowing I am part of something greater than myself. The legacy is why I chose this school from the start.

I saw the women strut on campus with their heels and their nice clothes, and I remember telling myself that I wanted to be just like that. Although the university is not an all-female school, the energy of Black women resounds throughout the Hilltop. I see the female powerhouses who had existed on campus, such as current Howard University Student Association president Rachel Howell and Taylor Davis, the 82nd Miss Howard University. These women of Howard are not who they are because of Howard, Howard is what it is because of them.

Among the influential women who have attended HU are Patricia Roberts Harris, the first African American woman to be a member of a presidential Cabinet, actor Taraji P. Henson, novelist Toni Morrison, author Zora Neale Hurston and now Harris. They are one of the reasons I proudly announce to the world where I attend college.

For me, to be Black and a woman is the definition of powerful, and to be Black and a Howard woman is the meaning of exceptional.

Institutions like these help people not only to create opportunities for themselves, but for people who will come after them. … Howard offered me the women I needed to help point me in the right direction when it came to reaching my goals.

As a 20-year-old woman from a low-income community in Chicago, raised by a single mother and grandmother, I have always been determined to create legacies for my seven siblings and my future children. I am the firstborn child, the first in my family to attend college, and that college was one of the many historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) where African Americans have the room to thrive and become who they are.

As a Howard University student ambassador, I stress to prospective students that attending “The Mecca” will offer opportunities that will set them up for success. I want them to get the same experiences I have gotten. I share the wealth I have gained to help ensure these soon-to-be students are excited to be part of a community where legends are created.

Institutions like these help people not only to create opportunities for themselves, but for people who will come after them. I wanted to make it big in life but I lacked mentorship. Howard offered me the women I needed to help point me in the right direction when it came to reaching my goals. Women such as Howard University assistant professor of sociology and criminology Bahiyyah Muhammad taught me how to lead with grace and authenticity.

And Howard alum Daynah Parker, who has become a personal mentor of mine, has helped me gain the courage and confidence I need to be successful in my matriculation.

Harris has opened the door for all the women who grew up saying they wanted to be president one day. She exemplifies the resilience of a Black woman.

The pressure is on. The legacy must continue.

They say if you can get through Howard, then you can get through anything. Harris epitomizes that, pushing past the critics to become vice president.

You may shoot me with your words/ You may cut me with your eyes/ You may kill me with your hatefulness/but still, like air, I’ll rise.

These are verses from the poem Still I Rise, written by Maya Angelou, a soror of Harris’ in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Both women embody what it means to be a woman who rises from the constraints of the intersectionality of being a woman of color.

As a Howard University woman, Harris winning the vice presidency of the United States is a testament to what a Howard woman is truly capable of.

The pressure is on. The legacy must continue.

Desireé Williams is a junior Broadcast Journalism Major and Sociology minor from Chicago. She is a student ambassador at Howard University and a former Spotlight Network on-campus reporter. Outside of school, Desireé is a self-published author.