Senior at NCCU attends gathering of Vice President Kamala Harris

Posted March 22, 2024, 3:36PM

By 12:30 p.m. Feb. 29, Devin Freeman, a senior at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), was at the White House. The event was “Honoring HBCU Leaders for Black History Month.” Along with 60 or so people from historically Black colleges and universities, Freeman attended or took part in panels about student debt, financial aid, national security and how artificial intelligence impacts African Americans and other minorities. 

The highlight of that afternoon, however, was not the White House – Freeman had visited once before while interning in D.C. – but an invitation from Kamala Harris for a gathering at Number One Observatory Circle (often referred to as the Naval Observatory), the official home of the vice president of the United States. 

Freeman is easily more familiar with Washington, D.C., than most NCCU students. Among his numerous internships was one in congress during his freshman year and another at an institute in D.C. that works with federal agencies and legislators on education policy. Along the way he met senators Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders.  

He has also interned with U.S. Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12). It was U.S. Rep. Valerie Foushee (NC-04) who put his name in for the event with Vice President Harris. 

Freeman is a high-achieving student. He started off at the United States Military Academy at West Point, then transferred to NCCU. He is majoring in political science and aims to complete his bachelor’s degree this summer. He participates in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and plans to gain a commission and enter the military reserves. 

Among his extracurricular activities he has been president and political action chair of the student NAACP chapter, Mr. UHP in university honors program, twice president of his class and in too many other roles at NCCU to squeeze into this article. 

Off campus, he has interned as Durham vice president of the Young Democrats of North Carolina, a Democrat precinct chair of Durham County Democrats, a public policy intern for the NC Chamber, congressional intern for Rep.  Adams and so forth. 

A few weeks ago, he was accepted by a study abroad program for eight weeks this summer that is affiliated with James Madison University to study Swahili in Tanzania and Kenya. Recently, he was accepted at Cornell University, where he will work on a master’s degree in public administration. He plans to follow that with a Juris Doctorate degree at Columbia University 

Freeman got an early start on Feb. 29. His current internship – with the African American Mayor’s Association – is virtual but has its physical office in D.C., so he stopped by in the morning to meet them and drop off flowers. He next visited Rep. Foushee’s congressional office and met with staffers he knew. 

After leaving the White House at about 4:30 p.m., Freeman grabbed a ride-share to his hotel, changed from an NCCU jacket he had purchased from the university bookstore into a suit and headed to Number One Observatory Circle, about 25 minutes from the White House. 

There were Secret Service personnel all around. Freeman was checked off a list and had his possessions checked for weapons before being directed to the event. 

He arrived about 5:30 p.m. There were around 50 or 60 people. “Speakers from the daytime event were there along with people in the world of social change and engagement, some actresses,” Freeman said. 

There was a band, Hors oeuvres, introductory speakers and finally Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Harris spoke about the importance of student leaders, Freeman said, and she related an anecdote about seeing Howard University – which she attended – while flying on Airforce 2 to Washington, D.C. 

“She said for us to keep doing what we do,” Freeman said. “That makes a difference. And that she was ‘overjoyed’ being in our presence, as we remind her of who she used to be.” 

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