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Howard University graduates reflect on Kamala Harris' election

Harris is the first graduate of a Historically Black University to become Vice President, an event that's resonating with HBCU graduates across the country.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Jennifer Dublin remembers perfectly how she learned Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 Election. 

"I was awoken with cheers and shouts and cars honking." 

Dublin, a Buffalo native, says the news was particularly exciting for her because of Kamala Harris. 

She's the first woman of color and also the first graduate of a Historically Black University (HBCU). Harris attended Howard University which is located in the District of Columbia.

The school was founded in 1867 and, like other similar schools across the country that were founded around the same time, offered educational opportunities to black people at a time when other colleges would not. 

Harris studied political science and economics while at Howard. She also joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the oldest black sorority in the country. 

Jennifer Dublin is also an alumna of Howard University and also joined the same sorority as Harris when she was a student. She says Harris' election is giving women of color a chance to see themselves in a leadership role that previously seemed unattainable for them. 

"She’s also showing a lot of us,...that’s it’s ok to be who you are," she told 2 On Your Side. 

The sentiment was mirrored by Jessica Blakely who returned to Buffalo after her time at Howard to practice dentistry. 

Blakely says this historical moment rebukes criticisms of HBCUs and the ability of graduates to prosper in the professional realm. 

"I was told it's not a representation of the real world and, you know, maybe you should branch out and go to a more notable college."

Blakely ignored those criticisms and decided to go to Howard when her mentor told her what it was like to go to school there. She says she's glad other people are now getting the chance to see what she has already known about the ability of Howard University graduates to succeed.

"It’s just an example of what can be done you know the product of a Howard University Graduate or even an HBCU", Jessica Blakely told 2 On Your Side's Karys Belger. 

Blakely, who is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., told 2 On Your Side, she has spoken to her sorority sisters frequently since the election and they share her excitement. 

"Just knowing that we walked the same yard, that we attended classes in the same hall...just knowing that we had that connection was amazing," she said. 

Dublin and Blakely explained the HBCU experience does give students a unique perspective and that perspective allows alumni, like Kamala Harris, to look at things differently in a professional space.  

"Ultimately her quest for social justice which was founded in her roots at Howard University tied into all of these things and make her that dynamic leader," Dublin explained.

COVID restrictions and increased security mean they can’t return to their Alma Mater to celebrate the way they’d like, but they do intend to cheer on their fellow Bison from a distance. 

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