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A handful of HBCU students were delivered a surprise congratulatory message from Vice President Kamala Harris during their commencement ceremonies this week, according to the Associated Press. The Democrat, 59, sent words of wisdom and encouragement to graduating HBCU students.

“As a proud HBCU graduate, I know firsthand the value of attending an institution like yours,” said Harris, the first Black and South Asian VP,  inside the endearing pre-recorded video.

“You leave here having been taught that you can do and be anything. And that you have a duty to be excellent. To work to uplift the condition of all people. And to fight to protect our most fundamental rights and freedoms.”

According to the White House, Harris’ sweet message is set to appear at several HBCU commencement ceremonies across the nation in the coming week.

Quinton Ross, President of Alabama State University, said students were “excited” when the video played during their ceremony. 

“We were ecstatic to get the message,” he added of the commencement surprise.


Where did Vice President Kamala Harris go to college?

Harris is a proud HBCU graduate and the first HBCU alumni in history to hold the position of VP. The California native attended Howard University, where she immersed herself in academics and activism, majoring in political science and economics for her bachelor’s. Harris became deeply involved in campus life, serving as a member of the debate team and joining the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, according to Howard’s website. She graduated in 1986.

“The thing that Howard taught me is that you can do any collection of things and not one thing to the exclusion of the other. You could be homecoming queen and valedictorian. There are no false choices at Howard,” the VP previously said.

Upon graduating from Howard University, Harris continued her education at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she earned her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Following law school, Harris embarked on a career in public service, serving as a prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and later as the District Attorney of San Francisco, before making history as VP.

Throughout her vice presidency, Kamala Harris has been working alongside President Biden to protect and advance educational and financial opportunities for HBCUs. In November 2023, the duo proclaimed Sept. 24 through Sept. 30 as National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, calling upon educators, students, public officials, professional organizations, corporations and all Americans to observe the week with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities that honor the significant contributions HBCU institutions and their alumni have made to the nation.

In 2021, the VP played a crucial role in Biden’s executive order for the administration to advance educational equity, excellence and economic opportunity in partnership with HBCUs, ensuring they have the resources and support to thrive for generations to come. The initiative, in collaboration with senior officials across the Executive Office of the President, will provide guidance to advance equity, excellence, and opportunity at HBCUs and the communities they serve by coordinating a Government-wide effort to eliminate barriers they face in delivering high-quality education. Recommendations will focus on policies, programs and initiatives to uplift HBCU institutions.


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