Much of your life can be encapsulated in three quotes. The first, your report that, “Many people told me I had three strikes against me: I was Black, I was a girl, and I was poor.” The second, the counter-claim from your Panamanian immigrant single mother that, “Where I was didn’t define who I was.” And the third, your observation that, “I’m a Black lady from the Lower East Side of New York. Not a lot intimidates me.” You admit having struggled at first to catch your footing in an education system designed to serve people different from you, but you persisted to earn bachelor and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. A summer internship led to career-long service at Xerox, where you rose in 1999 to become vice president for global manufacturing and in 2009 to become the first female African American CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Leading an organization that operates in 180 countries with 140,000 employees, you have repeatedly been named by Forbes as one of the most powerful women in the world. You are transforming Xerox from a document hardware company into a provider of business services, while at the same time serving as vice chair of the President’s Export Council and helping to lead the White House program on STEM education. Here then is a fourth quote, equally telling. “Dreams do come true,” you have said, “but not without the help of others, a good education, a strong work ethic, and the courage to lean in.”
I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Laws, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.
June 7, 2015