ORANGEBURG, S.C. — This freshman year at South Carolina State University got off to quite a memorable start. Vice President Kamala Harris addressed South Carolina State University's largest freshman class in recent history at the university's fall convocation Tuesday.
“Students, we turn to you once again. Your nation turns to you because to move America forward, we need you. We need your passion, your purpose, and your excellence," Harris said.
Students say Harris made several points in her convocation speech that they they will take with them through the rest of their college careers.
“It’s always a wonder just seeing someone who looks like me, a former HBCU graduate, it’s been an honor just watching her speech, just seeing the type of things she was talking about," said SC State senior Brianna Calhoun.
In her speech, Harris addressed women's reproductive rights and encouraged students to vote, among a number of other topics.
“Just knowing that the Vice President actually cares about these matters and being able to make these changes while being in the White House," Calhoun said.
Harris said being at the convocation made her feel nostalgic and reminded her of her experience at an HBCU.
Harris said 75% of HBCU students rely on federal Pell Grants, which is why the Biden administration is pushing to cancel $20,000 of Pell Grant debt. She also spoke about the administration's plans to cancel $10,000 of federal student loan debt.
“I think that is a big important thing for students because now we can live debt-free and go on with our lives," one freshman said.
Harris told students they are capable of greatness. She cited SC State alum Congressman and Minority Whip James Clyburn for his contributions to civil rights activism in Orangeburg during his college years.
“We need your leadership to help grow our economy," Harris said. "We need your leadership to protect our planet, to drive innovation, and to fight for equity and justice."