A lot of my drive comes from my mother. My mother immigrated to the United States from British Guyana when she was three months pregnant with me. She came to America so that I could live the American dream.

When in high school, I was told only to apply to a community college, even though I had the highest SAT scores and the highest grade point average in my class. I asked this guidance counselor if she advised the other students in my class the same way. I wound up getting a full scholarship to Princeton. 

Being a woman of color and going to Princeton at the time it was becoming co-ed was not easy. I had to find the strength to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. I had to learn to tough it out without becoming bitter. Not being accepted was not easy. It never is.

Years later, I returned to Princeton as a trustee. You see, I really do believe that educational institutions should be teaching about service to the community in terms of careers and volunteering. I was Princeton’s first female African-American trustee. I found that being a trustee was not the frightening experience I had as an undergraduate. Instead, it was very welcoming, and I was exposed to high-profile people who checked their egos at the door, all seeking to do the greater good.

This is an excerpt from a comprehensive interview.