A group of young women from Notre Dame High School in San Jose together witnessed history being made Wednesday as Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president of the United States.
In taking the oath administered by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Harris became the first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the office, and the significance of the moment was not lost on the teens from the South Bay.
They also agreed Harris won’t be the last woman to hold such a position of power. What was long thought an impossible achievement Harris made a reality Wednesday, and that gave many young women across the nation hope for a brighter future -- for themselves and their country.
"It’s amazing to see that, especially since Sonia was the one to inaugurate her," said Ahlyssa Santillana, a senior at Notre Dame, a private all-girls Catholic school. "It’s amazing to see the women empowerment in all offices."
Santillana and her fellow high school seniors now have a living example of a female vice president, a documented role model.
"When I was in first grade, I wanted to be president, but I didn’t know what a female president would look like," student Gabriella Olavarria said.
They could barely contain their excitement.
"This moment meant everything to me," said Jordan Paran. "Like Kamala, I’m half Black, half Asian. I’m interested in law and interested in criminal law. As I move on to higher education and seeing a woman who looks like me, I’ve never seen that before."
Harris's words "I may be the first, but I won’t be the last" has become a motto for students at the historic 170-year-old high school, the oldest all girls school in the West. The students are socially and economically diverse, but all share a keen sense of leadership.
"I’ve been here over 30 years, and we’ve never had a majority population, so it more than represents the diversity of Silicon Valley," Principal Mary Beth Riley said.
The girls know that and aren’t taking the moment of historial importance lightly.
"I think it’s inspiring for little girls like me, not seeing anyone like me in the media," student Shirlene John said. "If I could go back and tell my kindergarten self that there would be a woman of color as vice president, I think that’s amazing."