I stand as a representative of the many people who have embraced education. Education has made a significant impact on my life; education can take you anywhere, no matter where you begin.
Growing up in the inner city of Washington, D.C., my mother was my first and best teacher. My mother stressed the importance of education as a path to transformation. My dad died when I was 11, and my mother always instilled in her three children to soar beyond their circumstances. Education was the mode of transportation. This maternal encouragement resulted in my attending Bowdoin, pursuing graduate opportunities at Princeton, and professional studies at Columbia. The formal education I received is second to none—and I remain extremely grateful to this day.
I learned equally (if not more) from the education I received outside of the corridors of academia. The mentoring I received from my caretakers and the “schooling” emanating from my 3M corporate community endeavors provided the foundation for my current professional role. Mentors and sponsors served as my ad hoc board of directors. The charitable organizations where I volunteered (children’s hospitals, Girls Scouts, community centers, schools, and churches) allowed me to build teams, practice strategies, learn governance, and implement management techniques before bringing them back to my employer, 3M. These were amazingly transferable in the mergers and acquisitions practice I previously pursued for twenty-five years.
The mentoring, corporate and community relationships, and maternal lessons, individually and collectively, resulted in the most significant lessons learned. Those lessons are: when you learn—teach; when you get—give; what you desire can be your destiny.
As we are all blessed with skills, talents, and abilities, use them to benefit others and nourish your soul. These teachings have carried me from Washington D.C. to the Ivy League and to the calling of my career, 3M Vice President of Community Affairs and the 3M Foundation. And so, I end where I began. I stand here as a representative of the many who were able to achieve their dreams through the power and promise of education. Embrace education!