Relief, elation and hopeful are just a few of the emotions I felt as I watched the inauguration of President Joe Biden Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris. I was relieved because the ceremony seemed to have been incident-free despite warnings of the possibility of acts of protest as a follow-up to the incident at the Capitol two weeks ago.

I was elated because Kamala Harris, a fellow HBCU alumna and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister, had become the first woman, first African American, first South Asian, and first graduate of a historically Black university to become vice president of the United States. I had witnessed a historical event two times in my lifetime, the first being Barack Obama’s election as president. It is rare that one gets to witness history once in her lifetime, but to have it happen twice is astonishing. I was also elated because my 11-year-old daughter and so many other girls had gotten to see that a woman can crack through the glass ceiling.

Now when their mother, teacher or mentor tells them they can be president (or even vice president), the words are believable.

I was further elated by the pronouncement because it was validation of HBCUs (not that we need validation) and the work we do.

Since 1837, HBCUs have educated thousands of students who have become successful politicians, doctors, lawyers, scientists, among other professionals. However, our work is often discounted because of the perception that HBCUs are not as good as predominantly white institutions — the value of this supposition can be argued in a separate opinion piece. To Kamala Harris’s credit (and a testament to her character), she has never downplayed or tried to hide her HBCU education at Howard University. She has always proudly stated that she is an HBCU graduate and that the education she received there helped shaped who she is today. For the thousands of students attending an HBCU, when Kamala Harris took the oath of office, their choice was validated. For graduates, like me, the moment is a source of bragging. And, for those of us who work at HBCUs, the day affirms the work we do.

Last, as the inauguration ceremony came to an end, I was hopeful. To me, the Biden-Harris inauguration is a reminder that America is great and its people are fundamentally good.

The vast majority of Americans realize that there is no need to Make America Great Again because it has never lost its greatness. The American people still believe in the founding tenets of this nation — that all people are created equal, whether from Europe or elsewhere, Native American, or African American, and that these people have fundamental rights, such as liberty, free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and freedom of assembly.

No adult or child should have to fear being separated because of his/her status; no adult or child should have to chant “my life matters”; no adult or child should have to feel that the nation’s leader supports only one group and stokes racism and sedition through rhetoric.

Relief, elation and hopefulness. What an emotion-filled day.

Yolanda W. Page, Ph.D., is vice president for academic affairs at Dillard University in New Orleans. She is also a proud Dillard alumna.