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Raised in a low-income housing project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Ursula Burns excelled in math, and ultimately received her master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.

She began working with Xerox as a mechanical-engineering intern, and eventually became a full-time employee. After several roles of engineering and management, she became VP of corporate strategic services, and then moved on to become to become president, then CEO of Xerox.

In 2009, Burns was selected to assist in leading the STEM Education Coalition by President Barack Obama, and served as chairman on multiple committees, ultimately becoming chairman and CEO of VEON in 2018.

Citation: Nolen, Jeannette L. “Ursula Burns.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Sept. 2019,