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MAKING HISTORY: Ruth Simmons Becomes First African American Ivy League School President

In honor of Women's History Month, we are celebrating with 31 days of women's history! Every day in March, we will highlight an historic moment, as told through the personal stories of our MAKERS.

Today we highlight Ruth Simmons, the first African American woman to become president of an Ivy League school. The youngest of 12 children raised on a sharecropping farm in Texas, college seemed like an improbable dream. To her amazement, Simmons would far surpass the career expectations she had for herself growing up.

Finding refuge in school at a young age, Simmons immersed herself in her education, eventually becoming a teacher. Though she loved teaching, Simmons realized she could reach a more diverse group of students-- and possibly students like herself-- as a dean.

In 2001, Ruth Simmons became not only the first African American president of an Ivy League university but also Brown University’s first female president, remaining in that position until her retirement last year.