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"We have our first female VP. Here's why that matters to me"

Kamala Harris isn't just the VP—she's proof that our generation can dream bigger than we ever thought possible. Shelby Deibler, 19, tells her story of watching Kamala Harris take office.

As Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris walked down the platform in an all-white power suit to give her remarks and introduce President-Elect Joe Biden to the American people for the first time since the election was called, I couldn't help but envision tiny shards of glass bouncing on the ground around her.

After all, history was happening right before our eyes: Harris would *finally* be the first female vice president of the United States. The glass ceiling to one of the highest offices in the land had been shattered.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched Vice President-Elect Harris—in suffragette white—from my dorm room. I felt a rush of pride as I saw, for the first time, a woman thank the nation and speak directly to us about what she will do as the second-in-command of our country.

As she credited Biden for having the "audacity" to choose a woman of color as his running mate, I began to reflect on what made this moment so deeply emotional and patriotic for not only myself, but all girls.

A brighter future

We grew up having adults tell us "we can be anything we want to be*!" (*someday, maybe, hopefully!). But these are no longer just nice sentiments. We can now see limitless achievement as a true possibility for our future. Harris is a testament that there is a path to the highest leadership levels in the world.

Not even halfway through her speech, I found myself imagining what my *own* acceptance speech and celebration (and accompanying power suit, ofc) could look like.

How could I best resonate with people? What would be my message to the country? Could I also help to unify the nation? Seeing a woman up on the world stage made those mental images possible for me in a matter of minutes. Simply put, just by watching Harris, I was *already* thinking like a leader.

And, perhaps most important, that night Harris restored what I never even realized I had lost: hope. I can now see a future of ambitious, courageous and determined women leaders working together to not only make the United States a better place, but the world at large.

Representation matters

I voted for the first time this year. And while voting is only a small part of civic responsibility, I feel an enormous amount of honor and pride that I chose to help elect a woman of color into this role. From the day she was announced as the vice presidential candidate, I felt a restored rush of enthusiasm for politics and a renewed sense of opportunity.

Even as a student at a historically women's college (where female student leadership is a given), I had my doubts about how realistic a future in politics was for me.

Seeing Harris officially accept the role of vice president-elect was like a new door opening to my future. As I currently stare at the list of requirements on my many political internship applications—and admittedly grow a little hesitant—I imagine Harris walking into the White House ready to get to work, and I get inspired to shoot for the stars once more.

Of course, there are many women in the political sphere who came before Harris: Women like Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Madeleine Albright, Nancy Pelosi and Stacey Abrams. So many people fought and sacrificed so that Harris could make their wildest dreams a reality. And that night, she made my wildest dreams a reality.

Today, I no longer question what role women can play in modern American politics. Certainly, the work isn't over in terms of equality and justice for all, but having Harris elected as vice president is a sign that we can still strive for better and brighter futures as young women. She is proof that women are deserving of a seat at the table, regardless of their background.

What leadership looks like

By having diverse leadership, our country moves forward to be a more inclusive and forward-thinking nation. For far too long, women and people of color have been waiting their turn for significant change, acting as the backbone of our moral democracy but often facing many obstacles along the way.

Voting on a presidential ticket with the name Kamala Devi Harris meant that we as a nation are finally starting to overcome those obstacles. She represents more than a potential presidency—she is our hope for the future. I'm sure I'm not the only one repeating to myself, "If she can do it, I can do it, too."

We have been sent a clear message, one that will echo for generations: Women belong in all places where decisions are made. Women deserve to see themselves in positions of power. Women are the future leaders of the world.

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this interview originally ran in our February/March 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.

All GIFs via Giphy

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by Shelby Deibler | 1/21/2021
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