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Biden-Harris will be the first Democratic ticket without an Ivy League degree since 1984

On Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden announced he had selected California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

The decision made Harris the first Black woman and first South Asian-American woman vice presidential nominee for a major political party in U.S. history. 

Harris’ selection also marked the first time the Democratic ticket will not have a candidate who graduated from an Ivy League school since 1984.

Biden attended the University of Delaware and the Syracuse University College of Law; Harris attended Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. 

For decades, Ivy League graduates have been incredibly common among Democrat and Republican presidential picks. The last ticket without an Ivy League graduate to win the presidency was Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale in 1976. 

President Donald Trump graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 after transferring from Fordham University and Vice President Mike Pence attended Hanover College and Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney’s School of Law.

The most recent Republican ticket without an Ivy League graduate was in 2008, with John McCain (who attended the U.S. Naval Academy) and Sarah Palin (who attended the University of Idaho).

Walter Mondale (who attended the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Law School) and Geraldine Ferraro (who attended Marymount Manhattan College and Fordham University School of Law) were the last Democratic ticket without an Ivy League graduate when they ran in 1984. 

Harris graduated from Howard University, a prestigious historically Black university, in 1986. She is also the first person to graduate from an HBCU to sit on a major party ticket. 

The senator has credited Howard University for helping guide her professional path. After becoming the second Black woman, and the first South Asian-American woman, elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, she returned to speak at her alma mater telling the crowd, “A few things have impacted my life: my incredible mother and extended family and attending this school.”

During her first year at Howard, Harris was elected to serve as the freshman class representative of Howard’s liberal arts student council. “That was my first run for public office,” Harris said in an interview with Essence. “And when you run for public office at Howard University, you can run for office anywhere.”

Harris was also a member of the Howard debate team, chaired Howard’s economics society and pledged the Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 

After graduating from Howard, Harris went on to earn her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1989 and was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Southern California in 2015. 

While at UC Hastings, Harris served as the president of the Black Law Students Association.

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