Six Princeton alumni returned to campus Oct. 1 for a special Whig-Clio event highlighting work in public service. Each participant discussed his or her personal experiences, outlining different paths that led to similar careers.

Marty Johnson ’81, president and founder of Isles Inc., a community-development organization in Trenton, recounted the long journey he took, explaining how Princeton served as a launching pad for him to start his own business after having lived off food stamps as a child. Other panelists, including Alexis Albion ’92, emphasized the potential of each Princetonian. Albion told students that “you can do anything you want — even with a major in history.” For her, a concentration that appeared limiting to others was the key to her success, allowing her to be “open to possibilities and to do what she loved.” She now serves as a speechwriter for the president of the World Bank.

Richard Clifton ’72, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, discussed how working in the public sector allowed him to feel like he was making a positive difference in people’s lives. He cited the desire to be engaged in the community as the main reason for his return to public service after working as a lawyer in private practice. He told the students that even if they were to find themselves in the private sector, that shouldn’t stop them from also working for the public. The speakers encouraged the undergraduates to explore career paths that might not have been obvious to them at first.

The panel proved to be an opportunity for students to see personal connections to public service. Xuewei Ouyang ’17 said she had “always been interested in having a job in the public sector but didn’t know how it works, how people got there, or what different positions involved.” Marie Siliciano ’17, who had been interested in public service before the event, said she was “glad to look at all the options.”