YouTube video

Two Berkeley High students have launched a campaign to persuade Vice President Kamala Harris to speak at the school’s graduation June 4-6.

Drawing on their shared experiences being raised in Berkeley by families of immigrants, Desiree Solis and Suhera Nuru, both seniors at Berkeley High, explained how the vice president has inspired them.

“In my childhood, I was so often told to be quiet and not put myself in positions to speak out about the issues that I’ve faced. I assume you’ve dealt with the same, but how you’ve prospered through those experiences has continued to inspire me to live my life unapologetically,” Nuru said in the video.

Kamala Harris, raised by immigrant parents from India and Jamaica, lived in Berkeley for much of her childhood. She attended Thousand Oaks Elementary one year after the school district began its integration program in 1968 and has often talked about how her experiences growing up in Berkeley shaped her.

Solis migrated to Berkeley from the Philippines, while Nuru was raised by Ethiopian parents. The young women said they see themselves in the vice president.

“Just like your parents, my parents migrated to the U.S. to bring my sister and I a better life,” Solis said in the video. “You’ve inspired young women like Suhera and I to continue to work toward our dreams, even if others tell us it’s impossible.”

The students hope that the vice president can send the graduating seniors a video or call in to the graduation ceremonies via Zoom. A few of Solis and Nuru’s classmates helped them make the pitch to the vice president in the YouTube video.

Solis and Nuru, both in the Leadership Club at Academic Choice, will emcee their small school’s graduation ceremony on June 5. Solis is also the co-founder of the United Cultural Coalition at Berkeley High, a group that brings together leaders of the school’s many multicultural clubs for collaboration.

“Ms. Vice President, it would be a great honor for the graduating class of Berkeley High to have you as a commencement speaker,” Solis said in the video.

Ally Markovich, who covers the school beat for Berkeleyside, is a former high school English teacher. Her work has appeared in The Oaklandside, The New York Times, Huffington Post and Washington Post,...