LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kamala Harris is the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to become vice president-elect, marking a historic moment for the United States.
Her election to one of the highest offices in the country also holds meaning for a group of students in Lexington.
“Definitely speechless,” said Niki Rajendran, a student at the University of Kentucky.
Rajendran, who grew up in Frankfort, watched Saturday as Harris made history hundreds of miles away.
“I’ve grown up my whole life in the United States,” said Rajendran. “I was born here, and there weren’t a lot of people who look like me.”
Like Harris, Rajendran is the daughter of immigrants.
Her parents are originally from Chennai, India, and they moved to the United States decades ago. Harris’ late mother was also born in India.
“When my parents first came here, I don’t think they thought in their lifetime, they’d see a South Asian representative so high in our government,” said Rajendran, who herself is the vice president of the Indian Student Association at UK.
For many ISA members, Harris’ win is about breaking down barriers, no matter your side of the aisle.
“Seeing someone who’s not only of Indian descent, but also black descent, and it’s not just that she represents both parties, but it’s that she’s biracial, and she comes from a multicultural family,” said Rajendran. “Representing all those things, is really where I think our country is headed.”
Aniruddha Shirodkar was born in India and is now a graduate student at UK. He said his family members in India were “overjoyed” at the election results.
“I have two sisters, and it sets an example, that if you can work hard, overcome obstacles, you can really excel in this country,” he said.
For Rajendran, a pre-med student, sending Harris to the White House is even more personal.
“It really shows women like me, and daughters like I’ll have someday, that anything is possible,” she said. “No longer is it an unattainable achievement.”