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Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, the first African American woman to head a Fortune 500 company, believes it is time to get back to basics when it comes to American schools. “We took our focus away from excellence and performance and accountability,” Burns told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien about the dilemma of science and math education in American schools.

In 1980 Burns obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from New York University’s Polytechnic Institute.  That summer she began her journey at Xerox as a mechanical engineering summer intern.  This internship was included as part of Xerox’s graduate engineering program for minorities, a program that helped pay for her to complete her Master of Science from Columbia University in 1981.  After graduation she went to work full-time at Xerox.

Burns soon gained a reputation for being frank and unafraid to speak her mind.  Her willingness to tell the truth facilitated her rise to the top executive post at Xerox. Here she is talking about the fact that she is “panick stricken” by the lack of  qualified American applicants.

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