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Watch: Vice President Kamala Harris visits Hampton University to discuss efforts to strengthen HBCUs

Kamala Harris at Hampton University (September 10).PNG
Vice President Kamala Harris
Posted at 12:57 PM, Sep 08, 2021

HAMPTON, Va. - Vice President Kamala Harris stopped in Hampton Friday. She visited Hampton University to discuss the administration’s efforts to invest in strengthening historically Black colleges and universities and to recognize minorities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

"Historically, our HBCUs have done extraordinary research work, but over the years some of the facilities have experienced the wear and tear, and we need to invest in our HBCUs to have the ability that all universities have the ability to do, which is to upgrade," Vice President Harris said.

The vice president toured the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at at the University and convened a roundtable discussion with STEM students to discuss the value of HBCUs in training the next generation of STEM professionals as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s National HBCU Week.

"I think it’s just putting STEM on the map. There’s such great done at HBCUs. Visits like these that grant Hampton exposure and other HBCUs exposure on the work that’s going on," said Alexis Walker, a senior majoring in international studies.

One Hampton University student majoring in cellular and molecular biology believes HBCU stem majors are the future.

"I really enjoyed the conversation and talking about STEM. I think STEM awareness, especially in the Black community, needs to be more apparent and getting more stem education into HBCUs," said senior Amanda Harvey.

Vice President Harris’s visit to Hampton University had been in the works for around four weeks.

"We did not know it until last Sunday that she was coming. We had a pretty good idea, but we had been working on this and making contact for about a month," said Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey.

Students on the roundtable found out they would be speaking with the vice president only a few days ago.

"I told them about it, and the first they heard about it was two days ago," Dr. Harvey said.

For Kayla Patterson, a senior majoring in computer science, she says she’ll forever cherish the conversation she had with Harris.

"I loved just being able to talk to her and being able to tell her about my experience of going to an HBCU,"Patterson said.

Harris is the first vice president who’s a graduate from an HBCU.

"Vice President Harris is a proud HBCU alumna – the first HBCU graduate to serve as Vice President. The Vice President and the Biden-Harris Administration are committed to supporting HBCUs across the country," Harris' office said in an email before her visit.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria and Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck greeted Harris at the Newport News/Williamsburg Airport as she arrived aboard Air Force Two.

Related: Biden touts $1.8T plan for families and education during stop in Hampton Roads