New Haven

Jahana Hayes' historic victory inspiring African-American girls

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) - How would you react if your role model gave you a phone call? 

A 15-year-old girl in Waterbury got a phone call from Jahana Hayes, who made history Tuesday night when she became the first African-American woman ever to be elected to Congress representing Connecticut.

"I got a call from her and she told me how she's so proud of me," said Briana Jones. "She was so happy and it brought tears to my eyes because I felt very grateful for this opportunity and moment that she actually took time out of her day to call me."

Briana got that phone call when she won the election for class president at Waterbury Career Academy, where she's a sophomore. She says Hayes, a family friend, was a big part of her decision to run.

"She always told me that no matter what you want, strive for it in life and that's what she always has done," Briana said. "Jahana Hayes winning helped me become more motivated to do things that I wanted to do in the school system."

Related Content: Hayes becomes first African-American woman from CT to be elected to Congress

That motivation took her to the new Superintendent of Schools for Waterbury. Briana got a meeting to talk about ways to improve the schools. 

"We talked about safety in the public school system," Briana said. "We also talked about mental health classes and parent involvement."

Briana made quite an impression on the new woman in charge of Waterbury Public Schools. 

"She's wonderful," Dr. Verna Ruffin said. "She had so many creative ideas."

Briana says Jahana Hayes' election is inspiring -- especially for African-American girls like her, who now see how high they can soar.

"It gives me a lot of hope that we can do things," Briana said.

Briana says it may also inspire her to enter politics when she grows up.

"President? No...there's too much pressure," she said. "Maybe mayor, of like, a small town or something."


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